New study highlights investor activism

The number of shareholder resolutions filed by investors concerning social and environmental issues has increased dramatically over the past five years, according to a new study from Harvard Business School.

Authors George Serafeim, Jody Grewal and Aaron Yoon analysed 2,665 shareholder proposals submitted between 1997 and 2012.

They found that social and environmental resolutions – including on political spending, climate change, diversity, and human rights – are now some of the most frequently filed.

Most significantly, 58 percent of such proposals are filed on issues classified as “financially immaterial” by the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB).

According to Serefeim, this represents “further evidence that investors aren’t only motivated by short-term profit. Rather, it reflects the pro-social objectives of a large number of sponsors of such proposals”.