Monthly spotlight on the latest in values-aligned investing across Wall Street & the world.
ESG IN THE NEWS
Climate Activists Win Board Seats At Exxon Mobile. In a huge win for climate investors and activists (and a wake up call for boards resisting carbon transition), little-known hedge fund Engine No. 1 won three board seats at Exxon’s annual shareholder meeting, with support from BlackRock, NY State Common Fund, and CalSTRS.
Biden Issues Executive Order On Climate Risks. On May 20, President Biden signed an executive order directing the government to develop a strategy to address climate change risks on public and private financial assets. The order directs the National Climate Advisor, Treasury Secretary, and the Director of the National Economic Council to develop the plan within the next 120 days, and to issue a report to the president within 180 days.
Bitcoin Plunge Partly Tied to Sustainability Concerns. In recent weeks, the price of bitcoin has dropped by more than 50%. Some investors, including Cathie Wood of Ark Investment Management, blame the price volatility on ESG or sustainability concerns. Elon Musk has also convened leading bitcoin mining companies to provide more transparency over energy usage.
VALUES IN ACTION
Earth: Ford Rolls Out Electric Vehicle Plans. Ford recently discussed its EV transition plans, including its target for 40% of global vehicle volume to be 100% electric by 2030. Ford is spending $30 billion to develop its EV lineup by 2025. Ford also mentioned it now has 70,000 reservations for its new F-150 Lightning. According to the US EPA, cars and trucks represent about 23% of greenhouse gas emissions. At this time, Seeds has no direct exposure to EVs or the automotive manufacturing industry.
People: Shareholder Proposals Gain Traction At Amazon. At Amazon’s recent shareholder meeting, the NY State Common Retirement Fund sought an audit of Amazon’s workforce, business model, and products, an effort supported by 44% of shareholders. Several other proposals also deal with Amazon’s labor concerns, including one to appoint an hourly employee to Amazon’s board of directors. Given concerns over Amazon’s environmental footprint and its treatment of employees, AMZN is not held in Seeds portfolios.
Corporate Integrity: Seattle-Area Companies Support Black Boardroom Initiative (BBI). Several companies, including Microsoft, Amazon, and Starbucks, have voiced support for BBI, an initiative seeking to increase the percentage of Black executives on S&P 500 boards to 12.5% by 2028. Today, less than 30% of S&P 500 companies have at least one Black director. Seeds supports greater corporate diversity initiatives and views executive and board diversity as hallmarks of good corporate governance.
Royal Bank of Canada
Royal Bank of Canada (NYSE-RY) is the largest bank in Canada and among the top 15 largest in the world, serving 17 million clients. RY was recently added to certain Seeds portfolios given its positive growth outlook (and inflation resistance) driven by online/digital innovation, sustainable finance, and attractive underlying fundamentals of the Canadian economy. We also like RY’s sustainability profile as a leader in green loans and sustainability bonds, and a $500B sustainable finance target by 2025. RY is also a diversity leader, with 47% women directors, 46% women executives, along with plans to boost people of color on its executive team from 20% to 30%.
Financial advisors are using ESG principles at higher rates, according to a new survey by RBC Global Asset Management. Many advisors view adopting ESG as an investment decision and as their fiduciary duty, and about half believe their firms integrating these factors will lower risks and increase returns. Advisors are primarily incorporating ESG in their equity investment offerings, with much fewer offering fixed income and other asset classes.
Seeds introduces its Advisory Board of Visionary Leaders to Support Founding Team, including actor and entrepreneur Adrian Grenier, the founder of Calvert Sustainable Funds, C-suite marketing and legal executives, Google product leads, and ESG investing experts.
Seeds CEO Zach Conway Speaks at the Wall Street Green Summit
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