In recent years, AGMs have lost their sense of purpose, with annual reports published online, and shareholders no longer required to be physically present to vote on important resolutions.
However, for some investors AGMs have become firmly established as a platform to bring key sustainable issues to the attention of boards and the public.
Over the past six weeks, EQ Investors teamed up with ShareAction to attend in-person AGMs of companies listed in the UK.
I travelled to Yorkshire to attend the AGM of the chemicals company Croda and to ask a question on climate action. While all its competitors have already committed to obtain 100% of electricity from renewable sources, Croda did not include this in its climate plans. I challenged the board, and the chair assured me that this will be looked at within the next few months.
Damien Lardoux, head of impact investing at EQ, attended two recent AGMs in London. The first was at Standard Chartered, the UK-listed bank that provided more than half a billion dollars in financing to oil and gas companies in 2022. Damien urged the bank to publish concrete plans to restrict this, to align with global climate commitments.
The other AGM was Domino’s Pizza. At EQ we have been engaging on nutrition since 2019 with a coalition of investors, and this AGM brought another opportunity. Damien asked Domino’s to improve its nutritional reporting practices and work towards healthier sales targets.
Our presence at those AGMs showed everyone in the room that there are investors who are closely scrutinising the actions of big corporations and who will keep up the pressure for as long as is needed.
We now look forward to developing these conversations with the companies, alongside ShareAction and other investors.