Amazon faces record challenges at shareholder meeting

Amazon.com Inc faces 14 investor resolutions challenging its policies at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, a record for the retail and cloud computing giant, as socially minded investors scrutinize its treatment of workers.

The rise in the number of resolutions underscores the rise of environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG)-based investments, which are driving more shareholders to push for corporate responsibility.

It also reflects changes made by securities regulators appointed by US President Joe Biden that have made it easier for investors to file proposals and made it harder for companies to convince regulators that these resolutions should not be put to a vote. shareholders.

A new record for such resolutions at an S&P 500 company will be set next week, when Google’s parent company Alphabet Inc faces 17 on June 1, research firm Insightia said, the most since that time. she started following them comprehensively in 2014.

About ten of the shareholder resolutions Amazon investors will vote on relate to workers’ rights and other “social” issues, such as calls for the company to report on worker health and safety or the treatment of its warehouse workers. The others are asking for things like a review of Amazon’s use of plastic or changes to the company’s process for board appointments.

Amazon has recommended that its investors vote against all 14 resolutions, saying in its proxy statement that it has often already acted to address the concerns underlying a proposal. Although resolutions are not binding, companies often take some form of action if they receive support from 30-40% of the votes cast.

Leading proxy advisor Institutional Shareholder Services recommended investors vote for eight of the proposals, while Glass Lewis backed seven.

Royal London Asset Management Ltd, Britain’s largest mutual life insurance, pensions and investment company, plans to vote in favor of at least six of the shareholder resolutions at Amazon’s meeting , its head of responsible investment, Ashley Hamilton Claxton, told Reuters.

Britain’s largest asset manager, Legal & General Investment Management, and UK asset manager Schroders Plc also said ahead of Amazon’s shareholders’ meeting that they would support at least some of the investors’ resolutions.

Amazon is a popular holding among ESG-focused funds. About 32% of funds classified as promoting the environment or social justice under European Union rules are invested in Amazon, according to Jefferies Financial Group Inc. Only Microsoft Corp is a more popular holding, present in 39% of these funds .

Brandon Rees, deputy director of the AFL-CIO, America’s largest labor organization, said he hopes ESG funds holding Amazon will support labor-focused resolutions more often.

“I believe labor rights and working people have been buried in the ‘S’ of ESG,” Rees said.

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