Proxy voting and company engagement Q2 2023
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Across Betashares’ range of ethical and impact ETFs1, we voted at 253 shareholder meetings in the quarter ending 30 June 2023 on 5,735 individual proposals. We voted FOR 4,237 times, AGAINST 1,159 times, ABSTAIN 27 times and withheld our vote 137 times.
We voted WITH management 4,380 times and AGAINST management 1,355 times.
Among the proposals, we supported a shareholder resolution at American Express Company in favour of a report on risks relating to requests for enforcement of laws criminalising abortion access, as additional disclosure on the potential risks associated would enable shareholders to assess how the company is managing such risks.
We also supported a resolution at Ford Motor Company in favour of a report on reliance on child labour in the supply chain as additional information on the company’s efforts to eliminate child labour from its supply chain would enable investors to understand how the company is managing human rights-related risks.
Engagement activity2 over the quarter was focused on human rights issues. We engaged with ING Bank regarding its loan to the Santos Barossa gas project in the Timor Sea and concerns relating to the impact of the project on the local environment and the cultural heritage of the Tiwi Islands. Tiwi Islands traditional owners lodged a complaint against ING for its involvement in the Barossa gas project, claiming that ING had breached its human rights commitments and the project would have far-reaching and disastrous effects on the Tiwi Islands, Larrakia Country and surrounding sea country.
We engaged with the Northern Territory (NT) Treasury Corporation to understand how it is addressing concerns from First Nations people relating to the proposed Middle Arm industrial hub. Both the NT and Federal Australian governments have been accused of failing to conduct adequate cultural consultation on the proposed Middle Arm industrial hub, which threatens Indigenous rock art. The proposed project will be a major manufacturing hub for gas, petrochemicals, hydrogen, and minerals. It is designed in part to facilitate a significant expansion of the gas sector in the NT under the guise of ‘sustainable development’. The traditional owners of Darwin, the Larrakia people, believe that if the project proceeds, there is a risk of another Juukan Gorge-type incident. We engaged with the NT Treasury Corporation to understand the process that is in place for consulting with the Larrakia people to address the concerns and ensure the protection of the land and cultural heritage.
We continued to engage with Apple to understand its process for reviewing and restricting apps that are facilitating human rights violations. Press reports claimed that Apple hosts an app that allegedly facilitates the exploitation of auctioned migrant workers3. Apple said that it strictly prohibits the solicitation or promotion of illegal behaviour, including human trafficking and child exploitation, in the App Store, and every app is assessed in line with Apple’s human rights policy, which follows an approach outlined in the United Nations Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
1. Being Betashares Global Sustainability Leaders ETF (ASX:ETHI), Betashares Australian Sustainability Leaders ETF (ASX: FAIR) and Betashares Climate Change Innovation ETF (ASX:ERTH).
2. Engagement activity relates to the ethical and impact ETFs noted above, as well as Betashares Sustainability Leaders Diversified Bond ETF – Currency Hedged (ASX:GBND).
Ex Suncorp, Russell Investments, QIC and Mercer. Past Director of the Investment Management Consultants Institute (IMCA) and Management Committee of the Investor Group on Climate Change (IGCC)Read more from Greg.