Two-thirds of investors want to have a say in ESG resolutions, poll finds

by Jemma Jackson from interactive investor |

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interactive investor poll ahead of Unilever climate vote reveals appetite for engagement.

A poll carried out among website visitors to interactive investor, the UK’s second-largest direct to consumer investment platform, reveals more than two-thirds (69%) of the 1,464 respondents would like to see more companies put climate proposals to a shareholder vote.

Of these, almost a fifth (18%) would like climate change votes to be binding. The poll was conducted between 23 and 26 April 2021.

Unilever (LSE:ULVR) is putting its climate proposals to vote at its AGM on 5 May, although crucially, the results of the climate vote will not be binding.

Key findings on:

  • The Unilever vote on emission reduction targets: 42% of respondents believed that the company was doing the right thing in offering shareholders a non-binding climate change vote, while more than a third (37%) felt that the company should go further and implement the result.
  • Whether the non-binding vote would influence their likelihood of voting: Close to two fifths (39%) believe that climate change is a major investor issue and would vote regardless of the AGM vote being non-binding. An additional 16% always or often vote in AGMs and would also likely vote. A further 16% don't see the point in voting if it isn't binding. A significant number (28%) of respondents said they would be unlikely to cast their vote in the Unilever AGM as they never or rarely vote anyway.
  • Unilever’s ESG focus and shareholder value: More than half (56%) of respondents believe that Unilever’s focus on ESG enhances shareholder value while 14% believe that it is a distraction from running the business and erodes shareholder value, with just under a third (30%) being undecided.

Richard Wilson, CEO at interactive investor said: “Climate change is a call to action where retail investors are beginning to exercise their collective power. Increasingly, companies are giving shareholders that option but we’d like to see more companies follow Unilever’s suit.

“In this case, a small but significant minority made it clear that it was only worth participating if the vote was binding. Meanwhile, companies need to win over those retail investors who still do not believe that their voice counts at all at AGMs.”

interactive investor customers can vote for free

Customers can switch on the voting service by going into the ‘Personal details & preferences’ section of their account. For those who have switched on the ii voting service, there is a Voting Mailbox in their online account (under ‘account’ at the top-right of the page). Here they will receive notifications for all the UK-listed companies they own shares in. Where available, they will see links to view an event or place a vote.

These articles are provided for information purposes only.  Occasionally, an opinion about whether to buy or sell a specific investment may be provided by third parties.  The content is not intended to be a personal recommendation to buy or sell any financial instrument or product, or to adopt any investment strategy as it is not provided based on an assessment of your investing knowledge and experience, your financial situation or your investment objectives. The value of your investments, and the income derived from them, may go down as well as up. You may not get back all the money that you invest. The investments referred to in this article may not be suitable for all investors, and if in doubt, an investor should seek advice from a qualified investment adviser.

Full performance can be found on the company or index summary page on the interactive investor website. Simply click on the company's or index name highlighted in the article.

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