FILE PHOTO: People are seen at a booth of Vanguard Group at a fair during the INCLUSION fintech conference in Shanghai, China September 24, 2020. REUTERS/Cheng Leng
September 22, 2021
By Ross Kerber
(Reuters) – Vanguard Group Inc said on Tuesday it supported environmental and socially focused shareholder resolutions 20% of the time this year, up from 6% in 2020, as climate change and diversity matters drew more focus at corporate annual meetings.
The trend was in line with how other top managers worldwide voted in the springtime proxy season, increasing pressure on companies to disclose more about their carbon emissions or the demographics of their workforces.
In a report sent by a spokeswoman, the top U.S. mutual fund firm outlined several new case studies describing how it cast critical votes this year including at Berkshire Hathaway Inc and at Chevron Corp
At Berkshire, a little over a quarter of votes cast were in favor of two shareholder resolutions, effectively a rebuke for management.
Vanguard said it supported one calling for the company to review its diversity efforts after “our research found that the company lacked public disclosures about its diversity measures, goals or progress.”
Vanguard also said its funds voted in support of a call for Berkshire to outline how it manages climate risks and opportunities, “to address a material risk.”
Berkshire representatives did not immediately respond to questions.
In another high-profile contest, Vanguard said it voted in favor of a proposal for Chevron to cut emissions, saying it allowed for sufficient flexibility in how the company would implement the request and helping the proposal receive majority support. But Vanguard said it did not support two other shareholder resolutions tied to climate matters.
Asked about Vanguard’s report, a Chevron spokesman referred to recent comments from Chevron Chief Executive Mike Wirth that the company plans to update its climate report later this year and that “you can expect to see in that report a response to shareholder votes from this year’s annual meeting.”
(Reporting by Ross Kerber; Editing by Peter Cooney)