Amazon Flooded with Resolutions at its Annual Meeting
Amazon.com Inc faces a record 14 shareholder motions challenging its policies at its annual shareholder meeting on Wednesday, as socially conscious investors scrutinise the retailer's treatment of workers.
The surge in the number of resolutions reflects the growing popularity of environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG)-based investing, which is motivating more shareholders to demand corporate accountability.
It also reflects reforms implemented by US President Joe Biden's securities regulators, which have made it easier for investors to file proposals and more difficult for firms to persuade authorities that these resolutions should not go to a shareholder vote.
Approximately 10 of the shareholder resolutions that Amazon shareholders will vote on concern labour rights and other "social" problems, such as demands that the firm report on worker health and safety or the treatment of its warehouse workers. Other demands include a review of Amazon's usage of plastic and adjustments to the company's board nominating process.
Amazon has advised its shareholders to vote against all 14 resolutions, claiming in its proxy statement that it has often previously taken steps to address the proposals' underlying concerns. While the resolutions are not legally enforceable, firms frequently take action if they receive 30 per cent to 40% of the vote.
Eight of the proposals have been suggested by top proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services, while seven have been endorsed by Glass Lewis.
According to Ashley Hamilton Claxton, the head of responsible investment at Royal London Asset Management Ltd, the UK's largest mutual life, pension and investment firm, the company aims to vote in favour of at least six of the shareholder proposals at the Amazon meeting.
At Amazon's shareholder meeting, Legal & General Investment Management, the UK's largest asset manager, and British asset management company Schroders Plc stated that they would support at least part of the investor resolutions.
Amazon is a popular investment among ESG funds. According to Jefferies Financial Group Inc., almost 32% of funds classified as supporting the environment or social justice under European Union criteria are invested in Amazon. Only Microsoft Corp. is a more popular investment, appearing in 39% of these funds.
Brandon Rees, deputy director of the AFL-CIO, the largest US labour organisation, expressed optimism that ESG funds holding Amazon will support labour-focused resolutions more frequently.