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Boston Trust Walden

PRI reporting framework 2020

You are in Direct - Listed Equity Active Ownership » Engagement

Engagement

LEA 02. Reasoning for interaction on ESG issues

Indicate the method of engagement, giving reasons for the interaction.

Type of engagement

Reason for interaction

Individual / Internal staff engagements
Collaborative engagements
Service provider engagements

02.4. Additional information. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden has a dedicated in-house team responsible for developing and implementing our active ownership initiatives. Together these individuals have well over 100 years of experience engaging companies on various ESG topics. Synergies in our ESG research and engagement processes allow our professionals to gain a high degree of understanding about a company’s sustainability risks and opportunities for both investment decision-making and active ownership purposes.


LEA 03. Process for identifying and prioritising engagement activities

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.

03.1. Indicate whether your organisation has a formal process for identifying and prioritising engagements.

Indicate the criteria used to identify and prioritise engagements for each type of engagement.
Type of engagement
Criteria used to identify/prioritise engagements
Individual / Internal staff engagements

Individual / Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

Collaborative engagements

03.3. Additional information. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden considers many factors as we develop our engagement strategy and plan each year. Among the key questions we evaluate:

  • What are the most material risks and opportunities among companies in our clients' portfolios, including emerging ESG factors (i.e. can we establish a strong business case for engagement?)?
  • How do these risks and opportunities correlate with the breadth and depth of the holdings? We favor broadly held, large positions to increase client participation and potentially strengthen our influence.
  • What unique expertise can we bring to the engagement?
  • What is the likelihood for a successful outcome, and would success have benefits beyond the company in question (e.g. establishing an industry leadership position that could serve as a benchmark for other companies)?
  • Are we able to build an effective investor coalition?
  • Are we addressing a broad array of ESG factors that represent our clients' priorities and include all investment strategies?
  • What internal resources are required (primarily staff time), and what are the associated opportunity costs?

These considerations, among others, are discussed at our Proxy Voting and Shareholder Engagement Committee meetings, which include senior executives, ESG professionals, and portfolio managers/securities analysts. This Committee guides, affirms, and monitors our overall engagement strategy.

In addition to our individual engagements, we are also a member of, or partner with, numerous organizations that encourage collaboration among investors (e.g., PRI, USSIF, INCR/Ceres, ICCR, CDP, The Thirty Percent Coalition, WDI). Through our support or membership in these organizations, we take advantage of opportunities to join, and sometimes lead, collaborative partnerships.

We evaluate and prioritize our involvement in these engagements in a similar manner to our in-house initiatives. However, Boston Trust Walden understands there are unique benefits to collaborative engagements, such as the:

  • Potential to have greater influence with broad-based institutional investor cooperation;
  • Ability to reach more companies on more ESG issues in an efficient manner; and
  • Opportunity to share information and expertise and help define ESG leadership.

LEA 04. Objectives for engagement activities

New selection options have been added to this indicator. Please review your prefilled responses carefully.
Indicate whether you define specific objectives for your organisation’s engagement activities.
Individual / Internal staff engagements
Collaborative engagements

04.2. Additional information. [Optional]


LEA 05. Process for identifying and prioritising collaborative engagement

Indicate whether you monitor and/or review engagement outcomes.
Individual / Internal staff engagements
Collaborative engagements
Indicate whether you do any of the following to monitor and/or review the progress of engagement activities.
Individual / Internal staff engagements
Collaborative engagements

05.3. Additional information. [Optional]

Boston Trust Walden maintains a database of companies included in our engagement activity, which is updated on a regular basis. At the end of each calendar quarter and year, progress is assessed for all engagement activity. Results are captured in formal quarterly and annual reports provided to clients and posted on our website.

To evaluate progress, we periodically assess company engagement as follows:

  • Progress was observed.
    • Engagement contributed to new or amended policies (e.g., amending a Nominating Governance Committee Charter, adopting an inclusive non-discrimination policy).
    • Engagement contributed to more sustainable business practices (e.g., commitment to more robust vendor standards monitoring, implementation of science-based greenhouse gas reduction goals).
    • Engagement led to greater transparency and accountability (e.g., enhanced comprehensive ESG reporting, better transparency on a specific issue such as lobbying).
  • No significant progress; engagement is ongoing.
  • No additional follow up planned. This generally applies to engagement undertaken solely to build awareness around an ESG issue or in situations where portfolio holdings have been sold.

Each year, we publish an annual impact report documenting portfolio company progress. Data underlying the metrics presented in the report have been verified by a member of the Office of the Executive Committee.

We record collaborative engagements involving portfolio companies in the same database used for tracking in-house engagements. If Boston Trust Walden assumes a leadership or active role, we monitor progress in the same way as described above. However, if the goal of a collaborative engagement is awareness building (i.e. requiring little to no company follow up), or if we have a more passive role in the collaboration, we do not independently attempt to monitor the progress of companies. Nonetheless, we will record information provided by the leaders of the investor collaborations when such progress is monitored and shared.

We believe our company engagement on behalf of clients has resulted in substantial positive outcomes over our four decades-long history. However, progress is often made possible through collaboration with other investors, as well as the actions of other stakeholders seeking to influence corporate behavior. Hence, while we monitor and report on all engagement activity, we are careful to note that observed outcomes sometimes reflect the hard work of many individuals and groups.

In public disclosures, we describe five primary challenges to assessing the impact of engagement. We believe this context is important to better understand and interpret our reported impact metrics. In summary form, these challenges include:

  • Continuum of progress. Corporate progress is often incremental and can span multiple years. Boston Trust Walden counts milestones achieved in reporting periods as evidence of progress.
  • Attribution. Observed progress may be primarily driven by our engagement, but also often represents the combined efforts of numerous investors and other stakeholders, as well as internal company advocates.
  • Quality vs. Quantity. Improvements in policies, practices, and transparency are not all equal in terms of the time and resources required to implement them or in the magnitude of the impact; yet they are counted equally.
  • Transparency. Progress may be counted in our reporting based on private conversations and commitments before we publicly report the details.
  • Real World Progress vs. Corporate Change. Our current definition of ESG impact is often at least one step removed from real world impacts, such as the amount of emissions avoided, a decrease in workplace discrimination incidents, or a diminution of corporate money in politics. We believe this is an appropriate, realistic framework for measuring impact.

The progress noted in subsequent questions should be viewed in this context.


LEA 06. Role in engagement process

06.1. Indicate whether your organisation has an escalation strategy when engagements are unsuccessful.

06.2. Indicate the escalation strategies used at your organisation following unsuccessful engagements.

06.3. Additional information. [Optional]

As long-term investors, our preference is to have a constructive dialogue with the companies in which we invest. We regularly initiate dialogues with corporate management to address issues of concern to our clients, both during the process of evaluating companies for investment and once we are shareholders. Often, we establish collaborative and enduring relationships. Boston Trust Walden meets regularly with many companies to discuss emerging issues, share and learn leading practices, and monitor progress toward stated goals.

In cases where companies are not sufficiently responsive or where dialogue breaks down, we take our concerns directly to the board and other shareholders through the shareholder resolution process. Sponsoring a shareholder resolution allows an issue to be voted on by all shareholders through the proxy ballot. Importantly, filing a resolution often encourages negotiations with management leading to an early agreement and allowing withdrawal of the resolution before the proxy ballot is printed. Should the resolution not be withdrawn, however, Boston Trust Walden's resolutions frequently achieve significant levels of support, compelling management to act.

Some companies may continue to be unresponsive to a shareholder request despite a strong vote of support for the proposal. Examples of Boston Trust Walden's responses to such circumstances include:

  • Issuing a statement publicizing the strong vote and highlighting the rationale for the engagement;
  • Appealing to the company's general counsel and board members to encourage action;
  • Engaging major asset owners, asset managers, and proxy advisory firms to encourage support;
  • Reaching out to local media for press coverage;
  • Amending the resolution for potential re-filing in subsequent years; and
  • Filing proxy exempt solicitations with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

LEA 07. Share insights from engagements with internal/external managers

07.1. Indicate whether insights gained from your organisation`s engagements are shared with investment decision-makers.

Type of engagement

Insights shared

Individual / Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

07.2. Indicate the practices used to ensure that information and insights gained through engagements are shared with investment decision-makers.

          Regular, written communications shared with investment decision-makers and clients.
        

07.3. Indicate whether insights gained from your organisation’s engagements are shared with your clients/beneficiaries.

Type of engagement

Insights shared

Individual/Internal staff engagements

Collaborative engagements

07.4. Additional information. [Optional]

Information derived from engagement and proxy voting activities is systematically disseminated throughout Boston Trust Walden and to our clients.

Approach with investment decision-makers:

  • Research and engagement files are stored in company folders easily accessible (via an internal computer network) for investment decision-making purposes.
  • Periodic company reviews jointly completed by the traditional securities analyst and ESG analyst also update engagement activity and outcomes.
  • The ESG team prepares quarterly impact reports (for internal and external use) that provide updates on significant outcomes of ESG engagement activities.
  • Monthly meetings of the Research & Engagement Committee (consisting of dedicated ESG professionals, portfolio managers, and traditional securities analysts) provide a forum for discussion of current engagement and proxy voting activity.
  • ESG updates are provided, as needed, at weekly Investment Committee meetings where investment policies and companies are discussed and evaluated.
  • Proxy voting research is distributed to the securities analyst assigned to a given company for all portfolio holdings.
  • Strategy portfolio managers are generally consulted at the onset of an engagement to advise if an intended engagement would be appropriate.
  • Investment analysts are generally invited to take part in shareholder engagement calls with companies they follow.

Approach with clients:

  • The ESG team prepares quarterly impact reports (for internal and external use) that provide updates on significant outcomes of ESG engagement activities.
  • The ESG team assesses at year-end progress on all the engagement activity for the calendar year. Results are summarized qualitatively and in annual and three-year cumulative metrics in a formal annual report provided to clients and posted on our website.
  • Shareholder engagement impact metrics and select examples of progress are regularly included in prospective client presentation books.
  • Slide decks for existing clients regularly include shareholder engagement impact metrics and select examples of progress, which helps facilitate discussion and feedback on active ownership initiatives.

In addition to these formal mechanisms, Boston Trust Walden's ESG engagement and proxy information is shared on an ongoing basis with investment decision-makers and clients through informal discussion channels.

 

 


LEA 08. Tracking number of engagements

08.1. Indicate whether you track the number of your engagement activities.

Type of engagement
Tracking engagements
Individual/Internal staff engagements​

Collaborative engagements

08.2. Additional information. [Optional]

See our responses to LEA 05.3 for more information on how we monitor engagement with companies across all investment strategies.


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