Convergence between proxy voting and sustainability issues?
For many decades, voting guidelines of institutional investors were mainly focusing on governance issues. However, with the increasing pressure on institutional investors to integrate ESG criteria in their investment strategy, more and more sustainability criteria are being used by shareholders and proxy advisors in their voting behavior. In addition, stewardship codes are pushing investors to adopt escalation process in their engagement policy on ESG criteria. This can have an impact on several items put forward at the AGM such as the approval of the annual report, discharge, board reelection, remuneration structure and of course shareholder resolutions. With the counter proposals to the responsible business initiative, shareholders of Swiss listed companies will even have the opportunity to vote on the sustainability report.