Shareholder resolutions that deal with sustainability issues dominated all others in 2010, and it is estimated that in 2011 half of all shareholder resolutions will focus on social and environmental concerns. So says a report issued Tuesday by Ernst & Young titled Shareholders press boards on social, environmental risks.
The report says that the number of corporate social responsibility (CSR)-related shareholder proposals brought to a vote increased from 150 in 2000 to 191 in 2010. Not only that, those resolutions were far more popular among shareholders voting their shares, more than doubling the support they received at the beginning of the 10-year span and going from 7.5% to 18.4%.
Shareholder resolutions tend to attract the attention of corporate board members when they reach a threshold of 30% of shareholder support, according to the report, and the percentage of social and environmental resolutions reaching that level increased from only 2.6% in 2005 to 26.8% in 2010.
Steve Starbuck, Americas Leader Climate Change and Sustainability Services, Ernst & Young LLP, said in a statement, "Increased awareness among investors and regulators of the reputational and financial risks associated with CSR and environmental sustainability places more pressure on companies to identify and manage these issues. This trend has truly evolved over the last decade and it is gaining more traction as reflected in the growing number of proposals voted on and the level of 'for' votes cast this season."