Dialogue and Resolutions
A Process of Engagement
A vitally important element of our investment strategy is our proactive and ongoing corporate engagement activities. This differentiates Wespath from other managers that claim that they are socially responsible and who rely exclusively on screening to avoid investments in companies that manufacture, distribute, or sell products and/or services that conflict with their clients’ values.
Our advocacy efforts, by contrast, complement the investment selection process. Guided by the Social Principles of The United Methodist Church, we believe that we can positively influence corporate business practices. We regularly review our investment portfolio to identify companies that could benefit from improved environmental, social or governance policies and procedures.
Wespath’s advocacy program is an extension of our managers’ security selection efforts that include consideration of a company’s ESG policies. Working alongside like-minded investors to promote change, the ultimate goal of Wespath’s advocacy program is to promote long-term sustainable business practices that eventually results in greater shareholder value.
Building a Relationship, Step by Step
Along with other investors who share our values-driven approach, we employ a structured process to corporate engagement that starts with careful research of ESG issues and their implications for long-term corporate sustainability. We then develop a specific goal for the engagement and begin our advocacy effort. We are able to leverage the significant investments held by Wespath and other investors as management views the collective efforts of Wespath and its partners as an important source of information regarding best practices for establishing and monitoring policies related to ESG issues. Many of the conversations continue over several years and result in changes to corporate policy and business practices– clear evidence that advocacy can have a real impact on investment performance.
If attempts at direct dialogue are not productive, Wespath or its partners will file a public shareholder resolution to encourage action by the company. We use these resolutions as a way to elevate important issues before management, directors and other shareholders at the company’s annual meeting. A significant vote in favor of a resolution may prompt management to adopt new policies and/or improve current practices.