Portfolios on the Ballot
Systems–First Voting in 2023
Proxy season allows shareholders to tell companies how they want their capital applied in the real economy. Among other matters, shareholders can press for an end to extractive practices that threaten diversified investors’ financial interests in preserving a resilient economy. Portfolios on the Ballot highlights upcoming 2023 proxy votes that address diversified investors’ common interests in a just and sustainable economy. In particular, POTB identifies:
- Proposals and “vote no” campaigns designed to accelerate reductions in greenhouse gas emissions at companies that appear to be prioritizing their own cash flows over the risk that the climate crisis poses to the entire economy (and consequently to diversified portfolios). Matters include both proposals and votes against directors. Companies targeted include ExxonMobil, Chevron, BP, and Shell.
- Proposals at Amazon, Meta Platforms, and Alphabet to protect digital and human rights. These companies have created huge enterprise values for themselves but are creating ever-greater risks to the social institutions that sustain a resilient economy. This prioritization of profits over people may increase these companies’ cash flows, but it’s a terrible trade for their diversified shareholders, whose portfolios depend on a thriving economy.
- A proposal at McDonald’s addressing the abuse of antimicrobials in its supply chain. While this practice may improve its margins and thus its share price, it contributes to antimicrobial resistance, a $100 trillion threat to the global economy, and a corresponding risk for the diversified portfolios that rely upon a high–functioning health care system.
This report explains why diversified investors must prioritize systems over individual company
performance and how they can do so in 2023.
Modern investing requires diversification. Optimizing the financial risk and return of a portfolio requires broad diversification. This allows savers to earn the high returns available from risky assets (such as common stock), while diversifying away the idiosyncratic risk that would accompany concentration on one company or sector.
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TSC is a small non-profit working to create more sustainable financial markets. We provide strategies and tools that enable investors to prioritize social and environmental impact over financial return at individual companies. By shifting investors from a ‘company-first’ model of investing to a ‘systems-first’ investment approach, we seek to provide a level playing field for sustainable competition that allows people and planet to thrive. To realize this goal, we take a systemic approach across three streams of work: 1. Shareholder Stewardship, where we engage directly with investors to promote desired behaviors; 2. Policy and Litigation, where we seek to change the rules that govern investors in support of this more sustainable approach; and 3. Public Advocacy and Field Building, where we catalyze the development of infrastructure that will inform, uphold, and reinforce this systems-first approach over time.
As a philanthropically-backed organization with ambitious goals, TSC is committed to leveraging our resources and remaining agile where we can. We are currently a team of three full-time staff (each with at least 20 years of professional experience) with strong support from external consultants. Our team is committed to an ‘all hands on deck’ approach and we each fill multiple, evolving needs in the organization. We operate with humility, a strong focus on mission, and a commitment to supporting each other. We spend our days advancing the mission and value independence, initiative, and a sense of community.
The Program Associate Role
This role presents the opportunity for someone relatively early in their career to engage in sustainability work at a meaningful level. This position exists to support and streamline the work of programmatic and operational leads and to ensure effective communication with the community of stakeholders we engage. This position will report directly to the Chief Operating Officer and will collaborate closely with the CEO and Chief Strategy Officer. In the near term, related accountabilities will include:
Community Engagement (30%)
- Project-manage newsletters and special communications to targeted lists of constituents.
- Support social-media engagement and strategy.
- Oversee management of organizational website, making small updates directly in WordPress and working with external developer on larger edits, as needed.
Program Support (50%)
- Subject-matter expertise not required, but solid research chops a significant advantage.
- Provide virtual and in-person event support, including registration, logistics, and attendee follow-up.
- Support development of materials including reports, presentations, or one-pagers.
- Provide scheduling support and meeting follow-up.
- Participate in strategy sessions, with a focus on how to engage the community most effectively.
Operational Support (20%)
- Research foundations and individual donors.
- Collaborate on tracking fundraising information in the Salesforce database.
- Collaborate with COO on fundraising opportunities and grant applications and reports.
- Collaborate on team support processes such as expense management and meeting logistics.
- Collaborate on improving tech platforms and other internal processes.
We are looking for a passionate self-starter who is ready to dig in and help us create a new paradigm for investors. Fundamentally, this candidate should be mission-oriented, organized, humble, and willing to learn and any candidate with these traits is encouraged to apply. Additionally, we’ll be looking for a candidate who demonstrates at least some of the following:
Approach to the work:
- Passion for our theory of change and an interest in understanding systemic social and environmental risks and how they are fundamentally related to flaws in our capital market structure.
- Enthusiastic commitment to our team’s collaborative, supportive approach to advancing our mission.
- An inquisitive mind with a healthy resistance to dogma / willingness to offer and receive direct feedback.
- Ability to work very independently and remotely and willingness to initiate professional development.
- Strong attention to detail.
- Ability to meet in person three or four times a year and/or travel on occasion for work.
Skills and Experience
- Commitment to diversity, equity, and inclusion and knowledge of or willingness to learn best practices for inclusive events and social media engagement.
- Comfort with leveraging social media platforms, including Twitter and LinkedIn.
- Experience with or willingness to learn about the Salesforce CRM platform.
- Experience with