During the 2021 US proxy season, shareholders sent a clear message that management of environmental and social risks should be a top priority for companies. The 2022 US proxy season underscored this further with the submission of a record 247 environmental and social proposals, an increase of 74 percent.
As shareholders continued to evolve their approach to ESG topics, however, the average support for ESG proposals fell back to historic norms after strikingly high support in 2021. Similarly, average support decreased for environmental proposals, from 47 percent last year to just over 33 percent this year. Compared with 2021, the total number of environmental and social proposals that received majority support also decreased from 25 percent to 13 percent in 2022.
A key driver of shareholders’ decision to vote against these proposals may be attributed to their prescriptive nature, especially climate-related proposals.