What is shareholder advocacy? Essentially, it’s using your position as a shareholder, or part-owner, in a company to push for improved corporate environmental, social, and governance practices. Ownership brings with it certain rights – but also responsibilities, including the responsibility to help management make sound business decisions while giving voice to those who often have none.
Shareholder advocacy is important
But it is also more than that.
Active, socially concerned shareholders in publicly traded companies are becoming increasingly important. The voice they provide in the development of responsible business practices that promote both social and financial benefits should not be underestimated.
As part-owners, we believe it is within our rights and responsibilities to communicate with corporate management about the practices and activities we believe have a negative impact on communities, individuals, and the environment.
Why? Because our faith values call us to be responsible stewards of God's gifts and to reflect God's values by speaking for those who have no voice in corporate decisions. In addition, negative corporate practices frequently also threaten the bottom-line and long-term prospects of the company and, therefore, have financial implications for our investors.
Increasingly, the best-managed corporations are responding positively. They are welcoming, and even initiating, dialogue with well-informed, thoughtful socially concerned investors.
How does Everence engage in shareholder advocacy?
We have found that shareholder advocacy happens best when done in a variety of ways, including:
- Writing letters to executives and government leaders.
- Carefully voting proxies in support of Everence's stewardship investing core values. (Learn more about how Everence votes on proxies.)
- Attending and interacting with the board of directors at company shareholder meetings.
- Filing shareholder resolutions on issues of environmental, social and governance concern.
- Engaging in direct dialogue and negotiation on behalf of our investors with companies.
Sometimes just one or two of these strategies are needed to gain a company’s attention. Most often, though, the full range of options are needed to help a company understand and respond to the importance of social concerns to investors, the individuals, the communities and the environments affected.
Shareholder advocacy finds new solutions
At Everence, the goal of our activities is to follow Christ's call to care for our neighbors, and ultimately to help create a better world for everyone. Often, our shareholder advocacy leads to new, mutually beneficial solutions for companies, which may not have been found without our involvement. Shareholder advocacy can help companies look at problems as opportunities and find new ways of doing business.
The processes can take a long time before satisfactory and important agreements are reached. But, like investing itself, shareholder advocacy is not about the short-term – we want to change things for the better over the long-term. And that requires patience, diligence and focus.
Making a difference
Worldwide, 12 to 30 million people are forced into modern day slavery, including involuntary servitude, debt bondage or commercial sex acts. This largely invisible oppression forces victims to give up their labor to our complex global economy. At Everence, we believe God is actively creating a world in which we can all thrive -- a world in which all people can sit under their own vines and under their own fig trees and not be afraid (Micah 4:4). Unfortunately, many industries benefit from modern slavery at some point in their supply chain. That's why we're pursuing shareholder engagements seeking to end practices of modern slavery as a way to follow Christ and care for the most vulnerable among us.
Food and water sustainability
Food shapes people's sense of dignity. Its scarcity can breed conflict and violence, its distribution raises issues of justice, and it impacts environmental sustainability - all of which are part of the Everence stewardship investing core values. According to Genesis 1 and other Scripture passages, everything belongs to God, who calls us to live as faithful stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. As stewards of God’s creation, we are to care for it and to bring rest and renewal to the land and everything that lives on it. In addition, water is fast becoming the planet's most precious, limited resource. It has -- and will increasingly become -- a source of conflict within and between nations, and unsustainable practices are a threat to consumers and the environment. Everence is working with food and other companies to identify and address these concerns while encouraging them on a more sustainable path.
Throughout the year, we will address these and other issues with companies across the country. Read information and updates on our current shareholder advocacy work.
Be an active owner
Remember, when you invest in a company, you become an owner of that company. You can have a say in how that company behaves as part of our local and global community. That's why we take shareholder advocacy so seriously at Everence. Learn more about our current shareholder advocacy activities and how we're helping to lift up your voice through your investments.
For those holding shares in individual companies and who are seeking information on how to vote their proxies in accordance with their values, we invite you to visit the Praxis proxy voting pages to see how Everence will vote its shares. (The Praxis votes are posted approximately 10 days in advance of the company's annual meeting.)
Shareholders can also use the following free services to vote their individual company shares and gain proxy voting advice from Praxis and other socially responsible investors:
You should consider the fund's investment objectives, risks and charges and expenses carefully before you invest. The fund's prospectus or summary prospectus contains this and other information. Call (800) 977-2947 or visit praxismutualfunds.com for a prospectus or summary prospectus, which you should read carefully before you invest. Praxis Mutual Funds are advised by Everence Capital Management and distributed through FINRA/SIPC member BHIL Distributors LLC. Investment products offered are not FDIC insured, may lose value, and have no bank guarantee.