In 2022, investment management firm AXA IM conducted 596 engagements with 480 entities, mainly in Europe and North America. It also held 30 per cent more discussions at executive and board levels last year than in 2021.
Climate change remained the main engagement theme at 28 per cent, according to AXA IM’s 2022 ‘Stewardship Report’. Several environmental and social topics are also now being addressed alongside governance. The share of corporate governance-related engagements remains significant (20 per cent of overall engagements). Some 18 per cent of overall engagements were linked to biodiversity.
The strengthening of AXA IM’s voting policy to further integrate ESG issues into corporate governance has led to a 14 per cent opposition rate, with at least one vote against cast in 60 per cent of the meetings voted. The highest level of opposition remained for board issues (42 per cent of votes against), followed by executive remuneration (26 per cent against).
Additionally, AXA IM’s engagement policy was adjusted last year to draw clearer lines between ‘engagement with objectives’ (60 per cent of the engagements) and ‘sustainability dialogue’ (40 per cent).
The firm gave an update on its “three strikes and you’re out” engagement policy rollout. Designed for “climate laggards”, those that have been insufficiently responsive the use of escalation techniques will be considered in 2023 with divestment being the last step.
AXA IM will continue to further integrate its engagement objectives in its voting activities by:
- In line with the strengthened Deforestation and Ecosystems Protection Policy, AXA IM could vote against boards of companies that have been insufficiently responsive to biodiversity-related engagement requirements;
- Companies will continue to be held accountable when there is insufficient progress during thematic engagements, and AXA IM may vote against relevant board members;
- In specific cases of escalation as part of the dedicated engagement programme for companies identified as “climate laggards,” co-filing of resolutions may be initiated;
- Boards will be held accountable to ensure implementation of previous ESG-related shareholder resolutions that gained significant support; and
- AXA IM will maintain a high-level of support of its ESG-related proposal, adopting a case-by-case approach.
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