Shareholder Advocacy Report: Tools of Change

Calvert details how we engaged companies in 2016, the progress made towards improving corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, and our areas of focus for our engagement efforts.

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Highlights

  • Calvert Research and Management, Inc. President and CEO John Streur addressed the Blueprint for Responsible Investment conference in New York on June 17.
  • Streur's message was that asset managers have a responsibility to strengthen the UNPRI to better support long-term value creation and benefit the environment and society.

Calvert Research and Management embraces the responsibility to participate in the governance of the firms that we hold in our portfolios. Engagement is a right and, we believe, a responsibility of ownership. In our annual Shareholder Advocacy report "Tools of Change" Calvert details how we engaged companies in 2016, the progress made towards improving corporate environmental, social, and governance (ESG) practices, and our areas of focus for our engagement efforts.

Calvert undertakes shareholder advocacy and policy initiatives to improve the performance of individual companies and to lift standards across entire industries. Engagement can help corporations address critical sustainability issues that matter to our shareholders and society. Our goal is to contribute to improved corporate governance and corporate responsibility.

This often aligns clearly with investor interests when we work on financially material issues. In other cases, our engagement aligns with broader corporate stakeholder interests, when issues of engagement may not be currently understood as financially material. We also seek to build market understanding of the importance of ESG matters and facilitate their integration into the investment process. As the connection between a firm’s ESG practices and its financial success becomes clearer, shareholder engagement aimed at improving corporate ESG performance increasingly aligns with shareholder value. A vigorous shareholder engagement program, such as the one Calvert pursues, is a key tool investors can use to improve corporate behaviors, contributing to a more sustainable and equitable world and potentially enhancing investment value.

Among the ways Calvert engages with companies include:

  • Direct Dialogue: One of the most important advocacy tools at Calvert’s disposal is informed and constructive direct dialogue with senior management, built on a foundation of trust and an understanding of shared goals. Calvert engages directly with companies both on its own and as part of investor or broader stakeholder coalitions.

    When shareholder value is at stake and improved company performance is within reach, as determined by our sustainability research, we engage directly with management through periodic phone calls, letters, and meetings to raise concerns and identify opportunities, operating on our commitment to encourage concrete progress across sectors of the economy.

  • Shareholder Resolutions: If no successful action is taken with dialogue, we may file a shareholder resolution to facilitate positive change within a company. Often the filing of a resolution and the ensuing dialogue is sufficient to influence corporate behavior, which then allows us to withdraw the resolution. During 2016, more than 30% of the resolutions Calvert filed were withdrawn after companies committed to taking concrete action on the ESG matters raised, demonstrating the success of Calvert's engagements.

    When Calvert does not see a specific and meaningful commitment from the company to address the subject of our proposal we will present the proposal at the company’s annual meeting of shareholders. Although most shareholder resolutions are non-binding, a vote above 15% sends a message to companies that a significant group of shareholders is concerned about the issue at hand.

  • Proxy Voting: The right to vote shares on corporate resolutions is a responsibility we take very seriously, and as shareholders of a corporation our clients have the right to participate in the financial growth and success of the corporation, as well as the right to vote on important matters concerning the company's policies, practices and governance.

    We vote according to Calvert’s proxy voting guidelines, which address how each fund will vote and provides a comprehensive overview of our perspectives, aligned with the Calvert Principles for Responsible Investment. These guidelines, integrate corporate governance and social responsibility into a "sustainable governance" model. Over this past proxy season, which ran July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016, we voted 99.6% of the time at 4,466 meetings, which covered 44,958 proposals. All votes are posted to our website within 72 hours of being cast, and in almost all cases, in advance of the meeting so our clients and the general public can easily see how we voted.

A Long History of Advocacy

In 1986, Calvert was the first investment firm to sponsor a shareholder resolution tied to a social issue— namely, labor-management relations. Shareholder advocacy has been at the heart of Calvert’s responsible investing strategy for three decades, while Calvert's sustainability research department is one of the largest and most respected in the industry.

Calvert conducts shareholder advocacy across both large and small companies, including those in controversial but critical industries. Each of Calvert’s sustainability research analysts specialize by issue and sector, participate in key U.S. and international working groups, and play vital roles at organizations working to advance critical sustainability issues.

For more details on Calvert's shareholder advocacy efforts, including our four areas of focus and how we put our efforts into practice with specific companies in 2016, please download the complete "Shareholder Advocacy: Tools of Change Report".