AGM action

How can we make companies change?

Lots of universities hold investments in companies, known as shares. Anyone who invests in a company, has a say over how the company is run. We’re calling on universities to use their power as shareholders to actively engage – and vote - at company AGMs.

This year, campaigners are called for Barclays and HSBC to stop funding fossil fuels at their AGMs.

 

Since the Paris Agreement, Barclays and HSBC, two of Europe's biggest fossil fuel financiers, have funnelled over US $255 billion into to the coal, oil and gas sectors, according to the Banking on Climate Chaos report.

Barclays AGM was held on 5th May, and we wrote to VCs to get them to support the shareholder resolution on climate. Nearly 25% of shareholders defied bank management by voting for, or abstaining, on the resolution. Read more about the Barclays AGM 2021.

 

HSBC's AGM was on 28th May, and the board-backed resolution to phase out coal passed with over 99% of the vote. Read more about how shareholders secured this vote on climate. 

We co-ordinated an email campaign, to VCs across the UK, asking for their support in backing these resolutions. Read our AGM template here.

 

What is an AGM?

An AGM (Annual General Meeting) is a gathering of a company’s shareholders which happens every year. It’s an opportunity for shareholders to raise issues and have their say on the company’s performance and strategy.

 

What is a resolution?

In the simplest terms, a resolution is a proposal submitted – this can be by shareholders or the company board - to be voted on at the AGM, directing the company to take some form of action.

 

What can universities do?

 

Vote!

Universities may be direct shareholders of companies, such as Barclays or HSBC, and therefore have a vote at the AGM, for example, for or against resolutions. This can be directly or via investment managers who invest in companies on behalf of the university.

Ask questions

As shareholders, universities can ask questions at AGMs, which the board have to answer. This brings issues directly to the attention to the board, as well as the rest of their shareholders, whose interests they are legally bound to represent.

Speak out

Finally, universities can use their voice to publicly support and raise awareness of AGMs and specific resolutions, encouraging shareholders to vote.

Further resources

 

Check out these blogs on  blog  about the successes of AGM activists last year and the future of AGMs, from ShareAction's AGM activist work.

Watch and share our video on AGM action.