Looking exclusively at shareholder resolutions (as opposed to management sponsored proxy items) yields very different results than those reported above. In calendar year 2019, Boston Trust Walden voted shareholder proposals in support of management recommendations 12% of the time. In other words, Boston Trust Walden supports the great majority of environmental, social, and governance related proxy resolutions that shareholders put on proxy ballots in order to strengthen ESG performance, transparency, and accountability (i.e. 88% of the time we voted against management recommendations). We also note that shareholder proposals account for virtually all social and environmental proxy resolutions. Hence, in our opinion, PRI should request this information explicitly in future questionnaires.
Votes against management recommendations on shareholder proposals reflect our general support for resolutions seeking improved ESG policies, practices, or transparency, consistent with our fiduciary duty.
In addition, the percentages reported in LEA 18.2 above are skewed because of director elections that appear on all ballots and where each director candidate counts as a separate ballot item for a vote. In 2019, votes on directors represented nearly 70% of total votes cast. Importantly, Boston Trust Walden voted against management on at least 1 ballot item at 60% of company meetings.* Our most significant votes "against management" on company sponsored proposals in 2019 include votes against at least one member of the nominating committee at 31% of companies due to insufficient board diversity,16% against directors for serving on too many boards, and 12% against advisory votes on executive compensation.
On rare occasions we vote Abstain, usually to signal support for the underlying substance of a shareholder resolution but not the specifics of the request. In 2019, we abstained on 6 ballot items or less than 1% of all ballot items.
In general, our basic investment approach, which emphasizes companies and managements we deem to be of higher quality, contributes significantly to our record of support for management sponsored proxy resolutions.
The figures above do not include proxy voting results of the Walden International Equity Fund, due to limited overall assets (less than 1%) in this relatively distinct strategy. We vote all proxies according to our proxy voting guidelines and post the proxy voting record to our website.
Our answer to LEA 18.3 represents our best estimate.
* The percentages are based on 249 companies headquartered in the U.S.