Proxy Season 2024 | Update on Guardrails

As regular readers may know, we’re supporting investors in running two “guardrails” this year: one on antimicrobial resistance (AMR) and one on poverty wages and income inequality, the latter in partnership with our colleagues at ShareAction. We predicate all our work on strong empirical evidence, and have published case studies that demonstrate the fiduciary imperative behind our guardrails.

For this proxy season, our guardrails involve shareholder proposals at peer groups of companies, and we intend to expand the number of companies next year and to introduce director no-votes into the mix.

We’re supporting proposals asking Walmart, Target, and Kroger to pay a living wage, and asking McDonald’s, Yum Brands, and Restaurant Brands International to comply with WHO guidelines on use of antimicrobials in food-producing animals.* We may file a few more proposals before the year is out.

Supporting these proposals will help investors to protect the returns of their diversified portfolios.

Subscribe to our proxy voting guide for more information on these proposals.

At a more fundamental level, support for our guardrails doesn’t involve any formal sign-on process. At its essence, it requires only that an investor agree to and act on the following statements:

Living Wage

The payment of living wages should have positive economic effects that benefit our beneficiaries’/clients’ diversified portfolios. We therefore support the payment of such wages by portfolio companies across their value chains, and intend to exercise our stewardship prerogatives in the reasonable service of that objective.

AMR

Constraining antimicrobial resistance should have positive economic effects that benefit our beneficiaries’/clients’ diversified portfolios. We therefore support compliance with World Health Organization Guidelines on Use of Medically Important Antimicrobials in Food-Producing Animals among companies involved in meat supply chains, and intend to exercise our stewardship prerogatives in the reasonable service of that objective.

Disclaimer

Support of guardrails does not require or seek collective decision-making or action with respect to voting of securities. Supporters are independent fiduciaries responsible for their own voting decisions and must always act completely independently to set their own strategies, policies, and practices based on their own best interests.

We encourage investors to support these guardrails so as to optimize their diversified portfolios’ returns. Please contact us to learn more.

* In McDonald’s case, the proposal we filed did not survive challenge at the SEC—which erroneously agreed with the company that it had already “substantially implemented” the proposal. However, another proponent filed a separate AMR proposal that essentially requests many of the elements that compose the WHO Guidelines. We urge investors to support that proposal.