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Boston Trust Walden

PRI reporting framework 2020

You are in Direct - Listed Equity Active Ownership » Outputs and outcomes

Outputs and outcomes

LEA 09. Number of companies engaged with, intensity of engagement and effort

Indicate the proportion of companies in your listed equities portfolio with which your organisation engaged during the reporting year.
We did not complete any engagements in the reporting year.

Number of companies engaged

(avoid double counting, see explanatory notes)

Proportion of companies engaged with, out of total listed equities portfolio

Individual / Internal staff engagements

138
47

Collaborative engagements

40
13

09.2. Indicate the breakdown of engagements conducted within the reporting year by the number of interactions (including interactions made on your behalf).

No. of interactions with a company
% of engagements
One interaction
2 to 3 interactions
More than 3 interactions
Total
100%

09.3. Indicate the percentage of your collaborative engagements in which you were the leading organisation during the reporting year.

Type of engagement

% leading role
  Collaborative engagements

09.5. Additional information. [Optional]

In 2019, Boston Trust Walden engaged 178 companies in client portfolios across all investment strategies, excluding the Walden International Equity mutual fund (see below for more details). This represents approximately 60 percent of portfolio companies. Note that this metric obscures our frequent practice of engaging with a single company on multiple ESG issues at multiple times throughout the year.

Oftentimes there is not a clear boundary between collaborative engagements and individual/internal engagements. Under the collaborative category, we counted formal collaborations with established investor networks (e.g., CDP, Climate Action 100+, ICCR, WDI) or large institutional investors that address a specific ESG issue at a relatively large number of companies (e.g., lobbying transparency engagement co-led with AFSCME).

For the collaborative engagement count in LEA 09.1 above (n=40), we included only portfolio companies that were not otherwise included under the individual category (n=138) to avoid double-counting. In reality, we engaged numerous companies under both individual and collaborative engagements. In these circumstances, if the collaborative engagement was more substantial or effective, we counted it under that category. We do not include companies that were part of collaborative engagements, if they are not owned in managed portfolios. If we had, collaborative engagements would number in the hundreds (e.g. participation in the Climate Action 100+ Initiative that seeks to engage 100+ of the world's largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters, most of which are not held in our clients' portfolios). We also note that because of the broad reach of many of these collaborations, Boston Trust Walden's follow-up is limited. Nevertheless, we believe these initiatives help build company awareness of the importance of ESG factors to a broad range of investors and expand our influence and impact well beyond our investment portfolios.

Of the 40 engagements counted as collaborative engagements, we determined that we had a leadership role in 10 engagements, or 25%.

Our efforts leading such coalitions greatly broaden our reach beyond those companies in client portfolios. For example, in 2019, Boston Trust Walden participated in numerous formal collaborations,  some of which we co-led, including:

  • Co-chairing the Thirty Percent Coalition's Institutional Investor Committee, which wrote greater than 100 companies in 2019;
  • Leading a subset of engagements on behalf of the Sustainable Accounting Standards Board's (SASB) Investor Advisory Group encouraging companies to support and report on SASB standards;
  • A global investor letter asking 47 of the largest U.S. publicly traded companies to align their climate lobbying with the goals of the Paris Agreement. The letter was sent as part of the Climate Action 100+ engagement agenda from 200 institutional investors representing $6.5 trillion in assets under management; and
  • Co-leading with AFSCME an engagement initiative advocating for lobbying transparency.

Overall, we believe our engagement can accurately be described as comprehensive, covering a broad range of environmental, social and corporate governance issues. In addition, in 2019 our engagement work touched on topics related to 12 out of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The figures above do not include active ownership involving companies in the Walden International Equity Fund. These holdings are currently not a focus of engagement based upon limited overall assets in this strategy (less than 1% of public equities). However, Boston Trust Walden engaged numerous companies in this strategy, nearly all of which would be classified as "collaborative engagements" where we did not take a leading role.

 


LEA 10. Engagement methods

10.1. Indicate which of the following your engagement involved.

(specify)

          Filing Shareholder Proposals
        

10.2. Additional information. [Optional]

As long-term investors, we seek productive dialogues with the companies in which we invest on behalf of our clients. Therefore, for the majority of engagements we lead, we reach out to a company via email or letter at the onset of an engagement to request a conversation. We follow-up with a company before escalating the engagement to another tactic such as a shareholder resolution (see LEA 06.3 for additional detail).

We also offer guidance and expertise to companies across sectors through participation in dialogues and surveys (e.g., materiality assessments conducted by third-party consultants in support of ESG reporting) or at the invitation of portfolio companies directly.

We include above written correspondence from management and board members in response to our inquiries as part of the “meeting” category since these interactions are iterative and similar to a conversation. Taken together, verbal and written conversations occur in the majority of our company engagement actions.

In addition, Boston Trust Walden’s engagement is generally much more substantial with respect to our individual initiatives as compared to investor collaborations.

 

 


LEA 11. Examples of ESG engagements

11.1. Provide examples of the engagements that your organisation or your service provider carried out during the reporting year.

ESG Topic
Climate Change
Conducted by
Objectives

The environmental and social consequences of climate change have profound economic and ethical implications, creating risk and opportunities for companies and investors. We utilize active ownership strategies to encourage companies to aggressively pursue a path toward a carbon-neutral future by asking them to:

  • Set greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions reduction targets based on widely accepted scientific research.
  • Advocate for and support effective climate policy with lawmakers at the local, state, national, and international levels.

This work is consistent with the objectives of SDG sub-target 13.3: "Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning."

Scope and Process

In addition to Boston Trust Walden’s individual portfolio company engagement, we continued to work with Ceres (primarily through its INCR and SICS networks), Climate Action 100+, and ICCR to foster industry collaboration and strategic targeting of companies for shareholder engagement. A two-year initiative we co-led with ICCR encouraging companies to set science-based greenhouse gas goals engaged 105 companies overall, including more than two dozen portfolio companies through 2018. We summarized the initiative in early 2019 and continued to see progress among some companies included in the collaboration.

This is an example of a combined approach of individual and collaborative engagement. Strategy and materials were shared broadly, but the specific company engagements were often implemented by Boston Trust Walden exclusively or with a small number of additional investors.

Outcomes: We observed meaningful progress at 11 out of the 48 companies engaged. Examples include:

  • Emerson. Set target to reduce GHG emissions by 20%, normalized to sales, across 200+ global manufacturing facilities by 2028 from 2018 baseline.
  • International Flavors & Fragrances. Set goal to reduce absolute GHG emissions by 30% by 2025 and work with suppliers to set their own science-based reduction targets and report annual emissions.
Outcomes
ESG Topic
Company leadership issues|Diversity|Other governance
Conducted by
Objectives

A diverse board of directors is a critical attribute of a well-functioning board and an indicator of good corporate governance. Boston Trust Walden encourages portfolio companies to foster greater board diversity over time by:

  • Strengthening Nominating and Corporate Governance policies and charters to explicitly embed a commitment to diversity inclusive of gender, race, and ethnicity in board searches;
  • Committing to include gender and racial and/or ethnic diversity in each candidate search (known as the “Rooney Rule” standard practiced in the National Football League).

While we support and encourage leading practice policies and processes, the specific objective is the addition of women and people of color to corporate boards.

This engagement is consistent with SDG sub-target 5.5: "Ensure women's full and effective participation and equal opportunities for leadership at all levels of decision-making in political, economic and public life." Due to the interconnected nature of the SDGs, this work is also related to SDG 10.2: "By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status."

Scope and Process

Most conversations with companies on board diversity stem from our annual follow-up with those that do not meet our proxy voting guidelines for director elections (calling for at least 30% of board members to be diverse, inclusive of at least one woman and one person of color and/or ethnic minority), which generally triggers a vote against directors serving on nominating committees. While we record these as individual engagements, we leverage these dialogues by augmenting the efforts of The Thirty Percent Coalition (where we serve as co-chair of the Institutional Investor Committee).

Outcomes: The results in 2019 were encouraging. We wrote to or spoke with 105 companies in our clients’ portfolios, of which 24 recently added one or more directors who increased their board’s diversity profile. Numerous others adopted or committed to Rooney Rule disclosure and/or enhanced corporate governance documents and proxy disclosure.

 

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Sustainability reporting
Conducted by
Objectives

Sustainability reports help investors and other stakeholders understand how companies manage and measure ESG risks and opportunities, as well as evaluate progress toward achieving their goals. We advocate for comprehensive sustainability reporting that includes actionable ESG metrics and goals, focusing initially on the most material ESG factors for first-time reporters.

This engagement is consistent with SDG sub-target 12.6 "Encourage companies, especially large and transnational companies, to adopt sustainable practices and to integrate sustainability information into their reporting cycle."

Scope and Process

We routinely assess ESG reporting by portfolio companies and select those with relatively weak transparency to encourage improvement through engagement. We also communicate with companies that have relatively good sustainability reports when they seek our input as part of their commitment to stakeholder feedback and continuous improvement. We encourage leading practice standards as embodied by standards-setting organizations such as SASB and GRI.

While we mostly work independently on ESG reporting, we are also an active member of the SASB Investor Advisory Group (IAG). Through this group collaboration, we continued to lead engagements encouraging companies to support and report using SASB standards.

In 2019, we engaged 32 companies on initiating or strengthening ESG disclosures.

Outcomes: Nine companies engaged committed to, initiated, or enhanced sustainability reporting.

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Diversity
Conducted by
Objectives

Effective management of human capital is a matter of good governance and a critical component of long-term business success. Employers that foster a culture of diversity and inclusion benefit from increased worker satisfaction and productivity, an enhanced ability to attract and retain top talent, and reduced employee turnover and associated training costs. Importantly, diverse leadership improves decision-making processes and reflects demographic trends within customer markets. Conversely, poor management of human resources exposes companies to reputational and litigation risk.

We encourage companies to disclose their workforce composition statistics in order to increase corporate accountability on recruitment, retention, and advancement of women and people of color. These metrics enable investors and other stakeholders to assess and monitor progress over time.

This initiative supports SDG sub-target 10.2: "By 2030, empower and promote the social, economic and political inclusion of all, irrespective of age, sex, disability, race, ethnicity, origin, religion or economic or other status." The effort is also linked to SDG 8.5: "By 2030, achieve full and productive employment and decent work for all women and men, including for young people and persons with disabilities, and equal pay for work of equal value."

 

Scope and Process

We ask companies to disclose publicly data already collected and reported annually to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the EEO-1 Report), a breakdown of employees according to specific gender, racial, and job categories. We further ask companies to provide context regarding their diversity and inclusion policies, programs, and challenges. We believe this information enables investors to assess and monitor EEO progress. In 2019, we focused mostly on companies in the consumer discretionary sector.

Outcomes: We engaged 8 companies and observed measurable progress at 3 of them, either publicly disclosing or committing to publish workforce diversity statistics in company reports.

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Diversity
Conducted by
Objectives

There is a compelling ethical and business case for companies to have inclusive equal employment opportunity (EEO) policies that explicitly prohibit discrimination against LGBTQ employees and job candidates. Our engagement in this area aims to encourage companies to adopt and post on their websites EEO policies that explicitly protect LGBTQ employees from discrimination.

This initiative, which asks portfolio companies to adopt public EEO policies that explicitly include sexual orientation and gender identity and/or expression, supports SDG sub-target 10.3: "Ensure equal opportunity and reduce inequalities of outcome, including by eliminating discriminatory laws, policies and practices and promoting appropriate legislation, policies and action in this regard." It is also related to SDG 16.b: "Promote and enforce non-discrimination laws and policies for sustainable development."

Scope and Process

As most large companies now have explicit EEO policies, our engagement focuses on smaller companies that have been slower to adopt comprehensive policies. Boston Trust Walden engaged 14 companies on LGBTQ policies in 2019.

Outcomes: Four out of the 14 companies expanded their EEO policies to be more LGBTQ inclusive or added their inclusive policy to their website to be more accessible for job seekers and external stakeholders.

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Company leadership issues|General ESG|Other governance
Conducted by
Objectives

Conscientious proxy voting and engagement with portfolio companies on issues such as climate change, board diversity, supply chain management, and sustainability reporting are essential to fulfilling the role of the investment fiduciary. Large asset managers have the potential to meaningfully affect voting outcomes given their significant ownership stake in public equities. Historically, however, many have voted against, or abstained from, nearly every environmental or social proposal on proxy ballots.

We urge investment firms and proxy advisors to strengthen their proxy voting policies, practices, and accountability. These efforts also serve to mitigate potential reputational risk associated with asset managers whose voting practices appear inconsistent with their public positioning on climate change and other significant ESG issues.

Among others, this engagement indirectly supports SDG#13, which addresses action on climate change.

Scope and Process

Boston Trust Walden has an ongoing, multi-year initiative to hold asset managers accountable for thoughtfully incorporating long-term ESG considerations in their proxy voting practices. We engaged eight companies over the year, among them the largest global investment firms such as BlackRock, JPMorgan Chase, and Vanguard Group, where we filed shareholder resolutions for a vote in 2020 seeking a review of their 2019 proxy voting practices on proposals addressing climate change. While these engagement initiatives previously fostered positive changes in proxy voting policies, we believe the firms’ actual voting records contradict their public messaging on the urgency and financial materiality of climate change.

Outcomes: Half of the 8 companies engaged in 2019 demonstrated progress in proxy voting oversight, voting practices, and/or transparency regarding their voting records.

 

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Shareholder rights
Conducted by
Objectives

Boston Trust Walden considers public policy advocacy to be an essential component of our active ownership strategy. Our primary focus in 2019, and currently, is to prevent the adoption of proposed rule changes by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) that would undermine shareholders’ right to file proxy resolutions. The shareholder resolution is an essential shareholder right that we employ when engagement via dialogue is unproductive. Filing a resolution for a vote at company annual meetings enables the proponent to bring the collective voice of supportive stockholders to bear in management discussions on ESG performance.

 

Scope and Process

We have been engaging policy makers, regulators, and other interested parties in our efforts to preserve shareholders’ right to file proposals. Some actions undertaken in 2019 include:

  • At a June SEC-hosted stakeholder meeting reviewing the 2019 proxy season, we made the case that the current shareholder resolution process is effective and functioning well.
  • We wrote letters individually and as part of an investor coalition to members of the U.S. House Financial Services Committee.
  • We helped organize an investor call with the CEO and other senior leadership from the Business Roundtable, a leading advocate for substantial changes in the existing rules for filing resolutions.

Boston Trust Walden will continue to communicate our concern to the SEC directly and in concert with industry peers and partner organizations. While the outcome is uncertain, our commitment to protect these fundamental shareholder rights remains undeterred.

Outcomes

11.2. Additional information. [Optional]

Except for Example 7 above, each engagement example summarizes activities with multiple companies. However, the "Outcomes" section is a drop down of choices meant to identify the results of one company engagement. In order to share more of our results, we summarized the outcomes in the "Scope and Process" section and selected the Outcome dropdown choice that reflects either the progress observed at most of the companies or the most advanced outcome.

For more information, our Annual ESG Impact Report 2019 provides detailed accounting for engagement activity and impact over the calendar year. This document is linked here: https://www.bostontrustwalden.com/wp-content/uploads/2020/02/2019-ESG-Impact-Report_Digital-PDF.pdf.

In addition to quarterly reporting, newsworthy engagement results are posted on our website and distributed publicly on a periodic basis.


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