2022, the year in review
What characterizes our work and mission at SHARE, more than anything, is collaboration.
Why? Because the solutions to the systemic problems we all face – climate crisis, economic instability, racial inequity – require unprecedented cooperation across organizations, industries, communities, and nations.
That’s a challenge for an organization that works within a financial system that emphasizes competition, individualized rewards and a relentless drive to capture individual market share – everything antithetical to cooperation and collaboration.
But our experience at SHARE tells me we can find common ground, set common goals and develop common approaches in spite of our economic system and its perverse incentives.
In 2022 we helped to build new baselines for workers’ rights advocacy as the Secretariat for the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital and the Canadian Capital Stewardship Network; we built a broad-based financial-sector-led alliance in Climate Engagement Canada; we brought Canadian universities together in our University Network for Investor Engagement; we mobilized around Indigenous reconciliation and racial equity in our Reconciliation and Responsible Investment Initiative and our Investors for Racial Equity project; and we mobilized an international coalition to challenge pharmaceutical firms in Investors for Opioid & Pharmaceutical Accountability.
And that’s only a small sample of the wide-ranging networks, collaborative spaces and relationships we’ve been developing to advance collective work for a sustainable, inclusive and productive economy.
It’s not always easy to bring together people and institutions that have very different mandates. When we’re bringing together the ideas, interests and priorities of tenants’ organizations, unions, Indigenous governments and advocates for racial justice alongside those of investment institutions that control trillions of dollars in invested capital, governments, regulators, and corporate leaders, it can get complicated. But our team at SHARE is dedicated to bridging these worlds, to turning ideas into actions, and to working together to make those actions effective.
That’s why we get powerful results.
I invite you to read more about the collaborative engagement, advocacy and solution-building we’ve been doing in 2022. More importantly, I invite you to join with us in 2023 in taking these actions to the next level.
“Our experience at SHARE tells me we can find common ground, set common goals and develop common approaches in spite of our economic system and its perverse incentives.”
HUMAN RIGHTS & DECENT WORK
Setting a baseline for investor engagement on decent work and human rights.
This past year was ground-breaking for investors’ advancement of workers’ rights. With multiple milestone votes for freedom of association and the launch of two new investor guidelines for engaging on workers’ rights, 2022 was a year for raising the bar.
Filed on behalf of the Catherine Donnelly Foundation, our shareholder proposal on freedom of association at Amazon received a record 47% of the independent vote. Pension fund heavyweights CalPERS, CalSTRS, New York City Pension, Florida and Wisconsin funds, and Texas Teachers all backed the proposal, along with the some of the largest Canadian funds, including CPPIB, AIMCO, IMCO, and BCI. This result indicates a huge growth in support for workers’ rights in Canada, and we look forward to the 2023 Amazon AGM where a similar proposal will go to vote once again. Shareholders also mobilized at Tesla, where our proposal requesting a freedom of association policy received 44% of the independent vote. As an electric vehicle producer, Tesla is known for the ways it contributes to the “E” in ESG, yet fails to demonstrate leadership on the “S,” especially when it comes to its workers. It’s clear that investors are watching for workers’ rights, and we anticipate this support to broaden during the 2023 proxy season.
In 2022, our partner network, the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital (CWC) continued to lead the way in investor advocacy for workers’ rights. Last July, the program designed and launched a set of baseline expectations for asset managers on workers’ rights. The first of its kind, the framework provides guidelines on how to assess an asset manager’s commitment to upholding fundamental labour rights. In addition, the CWC also released a report on investor advocacy for freedom of association. With contributions from UFCW, UNI Global Union, and many other unions from around the world, Shared Prosperity features ground-breaking new research that explores how upholding trade union rights is an opportunity for investors to mitigate systemic social risks, such as inequality.
We continue to prioritize human and workers’ rights, including engagements and advocacy related to supply chain due diligence. Last year, SHARE CEO Kevin Thomas testified to both the Canadian Senate and Parliament regarding Bill S-211, An Act to enact the Fighting Against Forced Labour and Child Labour in Supply Chains, arguing that Bill S-211 is insufficient on its own to address forced labour in supply chains. SHARE and its allied organizations have argued that the scope of the Act needs to be broadened to include a wider spectrum of material human rights issues for companies and investors, particularly those set out in OECD Guidelines and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. Since 2017, SHARE has been advocating for legislation that would require companies to identify, prevent, mitigate and account for how they address adverse human rights impacts, including forced and child labour. After years of advocacy, we are hopeful that a new bill addressing these changes will be released during the summer of 2023.
Building systems for accountability and supporting a Just Transition.
In 2020 and 2021, SHARE expanded its dedicated climate engagement offerings with the launch of two new programs: University Network for Investor Engagement (UNIE) and Climate Engagement Canada (CEC). During the 2022 calendar year, both programs saw an increase in membership, as well as new developments in network goals and programming.
Last June, Climate Engagement Canada announced the CEC Focus List—forty select TSX-listed companies that will be strategically engaged in a finance-led initiative for the alignment of expectations on climate risk governance, disclosure, and the transition to a low-carbon economy in Canada.
Our work on climate continues to move the needle on decarbonization and emissions reduction. Corporations have been quick to release climate-related commitments in the face of growing scrutiny, and through engagements and advocacy, we are ensuring those commitments are followed by tangible actions.
Through our shareholder engagement program, we engaged with companies to discuss pathways forward for setting clearer climate targets, including Toromont Cat, Scotiabank and National Bank of Canada. During the 2022 proxy season, our proposal on decarbonization at Toromont Cat, co-filed with As You Sow, Amalgamated Bank and Canada Post, received 96% of the shareholder vote, resulting in one of the highest climate proposal results of the season.
In November, we released Pulling Back the Curtain, a report on climate lobbying in the oil and gas sector that builds on research from our first climate lobbying benchmark in 2020. Our second climate lobbying benchmark clearly shows that Canadian oil and gas companies have a long way to go to align their lobbying activity with a net zero future. We will continue to engage companies on this misalignment, and explore additional research on lobbying alignment in partnership with Influence Map, the Ivey Foundation and Columbia Institute.
RECONCILIATION & RACIAL EQUITY
Bridging corporate and community commitments with tangible calls to justice.
2020 and 2021 saw a rise in racial justice awareness and a corresponding demand for companies to build and report on tangible racial equity policies and practices. For all too many companies, commitments have been largely symbolic, but in 2022, companies and investors were pressed to back their intentions with real action. Last year, SHARE and the RRII led CEO-level engagements with securities regulators across Canada, addressing diversity disclosure requirements, environmental justice, and Indigenous requirements in mining regulations. This work continues into 2023 through both the RRII and our growing Investors for Racial Equity program.
2022 was a milestone year for shareholder engagement on racial equity. History was made at the AGM of Constellation Software, a Canadian company known for their bespoke business software, when a majority of shareholders voted in favour of a racial equity proposal filed by SHARE on behalf of the United Church of Canada Pension. This was the first vote of its kind to pass in Canada, and has set a new precedent for Canadian issuers. Additionally, SHARE filed a proposal at snack food conglomerate Mondelez International on behalf of Dragonfly Ventures, calling on the company to conduct a racial equity audit. This proposal received 47% of the vote, which encouraged the company to make a tangible commitment to an audit, which they are now completing in the 2023 calendar year.
In addition, the Values in Action Engagement Program continued working with Indigenous trusts and investors from coast to coast on reconciliation engagements. During the 2022 proxy season, the program filed a reconciliation proposal at construction equipment producer Toromont Cat where 99% of shareholders voted in favour of the proposal, passing the vote almost unanimously in a record-breaking show of support. In addition, another vote led by the RRII at Onex Corporation received 49% of the independent shareholder vote, despite the company recommending shareholders vote against. Investors are taking a stand in favour of reconciliation, and companies should be watching.
Rebuilding systems to benefit emerging and future generations.
At SHARE we’re continuously looking ahead, to identify opportunities to expand and improve investor advocacy and stewardship, and showing up for the movements that are driving systemic social and environmental change.
Last year, we continued to advance investor engagement on both housing affordability and pharmaceutical accountability. In collaboration with our partners at the Investors for Opioid and Pharmaceutical Accountability (IOPA), we held pharmaceutical companies to account for drug price lobbying, and for failing to hold their executives financially accountable for corporate opioid lawsuits.
You can learn more about this work in the recent report from IOPA.
We are also excited to share that this summer, we will be releasing a new report on the financialization of housing, including research regarding the growing impact of real estate invest trusts (REITs).
In 2022, we expanded the reach of our work, bridging our efforts on human rights, reconciliation and workers’ rights with a more diverse international audience. We look forward to sharing more information about our global efforts throughout 2023.