Shareholders are holding companies accountable not only for their business activities but also for their governance and financial practices. Companies often have publicly stated goals, such reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but their lobbying activities and trade association contributions may contradict those goals. Mercy Investment Services’ shareholder advocacy priorities include ensuring companies are consistent in word and deed by asking them to develop clear and transparent policies, practices and disclosures of political and trade association contributions and financial support.
Recent votes demonstrate that shareholders believe this is an important issue for companies to address. This year, shareholder votes on lobbying proposals have increased, with average votes at 39 percent, up from 33 percent last year. A lobbying proposal at private prison contractor GEO Group earned 66 percent, the highest vote for a lobbying proposal without management support. A similar proposal at pharmaceutical manufacturer Eli Lilly garnered more than 48 percent of shareholders’ support.
This shareholder advocacy season, Mercy Investment Services withdrew multiple resolutions on lobbying issues thanks to company commitments. Going forward, Mercy will continue to engage companies to ensure their lobbying activities and political contributions align with their stated goals.