|Founder||Alex Van Der Valden|
|Focus||Environmentalism, social responsibility, corporate governance, human rights, pension funds, socially responsible investing|
|Method||Lobbying, research, education, shareholder activism|
Catherine Howarth, Chief ExecutiveLouise Rouse, Director of Engagement
ShareAction's aim is to improve corporate behaviour regarding environmental, social and governance issues. The advocacy group focuses on encouraging pension funds to implement responsible investment strategies. The charity engages with corporations through shareholder action. Its work is driven by the fact that people indirectly have shares in companies through their participation in pension schemes and other financial products.
ShareAction was shortlisted in the 'Animals and the Environment' category in the Charity Awards 2010 for its campaign work about the tar sands in Canada. In 2011, ShareAction's Chief Executive Catherine Howarth was named a "Rising Star of Corporate Governance" by Yale University's Millstein Centre. In February 2012, ShareAction was named one of "Britain's 50 new radicals" by The Observer and Nesta. The 'new radicals' are people or organisations who are "changing Britain for the better" and "applying fresh approaches". It received 'Highly Commended' in the "Advice, Support and Advocacy" category in the Charity Awards 2012 for its work lobbying FTSE 100 companies to pay their workers the Living Wage.
ShareAction is the operating name of Fairshare Educational Foundation. The charity sprung from student organisation People & Planet's "Ethics for USS" campaign which led to The University Superannuation Scheme being the first pension fund to adopt a socially responsible investment policy in the 1990s.
Have your Say on High Pay
At the end of April 2012 ShareAction launched its 'Your Say on Pay' campaign. The campaign aimed to address the issue of 'spiralling' executive rewards at listed companies and was backed by the High Pay Centre and former Greggs Managing Director Mike Darrington. During the first week of the campaign Aviva suffered a majority vote against its remuneration proposals; only the fourth time this had happened at a FTSE 100 company. The campaign gave members of the public a chance to email their pension funds or ISA providers asking them to vote against excessive remuneration packages. In its first couple of weeks alone the campaign garnered widespread national media interest, including articles or appearances by the team in The Daily Telegraph The Daily Mail BBC and Sky News.
The campaign uses multiple methods: an online action tool for ordinary savers with pension funds or stocks and shares ISAs to email their providers and ask them to use their votes at company AGMs to take a robust stance on excessive executive pay, attendance of company AGMs to ask questions directly to the board where bad practice on remuneration has been found and engagement with investors on excessive pay issues.
The 'Your Say on Pay Campaign' had a parliamentary launch on 15 May 2012 at The House of Commons. An Early Day Motion was signed by MPs from across the political spectrum.
In May 2011, ShareAction launched the JustPay! campaign to persuade the FTSE 100 companies to implement Living wage standards. The campaign was backed by UK and US investors that hold £13 billion assets under management and was launched at the rally (2 May 2011)  for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of the Living wage campaign.
A letter signed by the investor coalition was sent to the top 100 UK companies, asking them to pay Living Wages. ShareAction mobilised members of the public to participate at the AGM of companies such as Barclays, Lloyd's, Centrica and Standard Life to ask them questions about their Living wage policy and to push towards its implementation. Standard Life committed to start discussions with its contractors to allow the company to become a living wage employer across all UK operations.
- Tar Sands – Counting the Cost
In 2010, ShareAction launched a campaign to challenge the development of tar sands deposits by oil companies in Canada. The tar sands project has been characterised by environmentalists as "the biggest environmental crime in history". ShareAction coordinated two shareholder resolutions at Shell's and BP's annual general meetings, asking the companies to disclose more information about their involvement in the tar sands project. Both firms called on their shareholders to vote against the resolution. At the BP AGM, on 15 April 2010, 14% of shareholders refused to back the management's recommendation, while at Shell's AGM, on 18 May 2010, 11% of investors refused to follow management. The campaign gained major support from politicians, unions and members of the public, including celebrities such as actor and comedian Alistair McGowan and Thom Yorke of the band Radiohead. It was considered a success in stimulating shareholder engagement.
- "Is your pension in Deepwater?"
The explosion of the Deepwater Horizon on 20 April 2010 raised new concerns about BP's risk management practices. ShareAction launched a campaign calling for greater reporting by pension funds of their management of environmental and safety risks at companies in which they are shareholders. ShareAction said that the Gulf of Mexico oil leak could affect UK pension funds, arguing that that the environmental risks also have financial consequences. The charity urged investors to take measures to ensure that ESG issues are monitored in order to avoid similar crisis management problems in the future. It also put pressure on the Government to tighten pension funds regulations on environmental and social risk. The campaign raised awareness about the need for investors to pay attention to ESG risks.
- "Got oil?"
A few months later, in September 2010, ShareAction joined Greenpeace to launch a new campaign to raise awareness about the "increasingly risky business model" of the oil industry. The "Got Oil?" campaign encouraged pension funds and fund managers to challenge oil companies about how they are dealing with climate change risks.
- North Sea oil spill
ShareAction saw a similar crisis management failure in the following year's oil leak at North Sea from Shell's platform and said that investors should be concerned about the “lack of transparency” after the spill.
Telecommunications and human rights
In July 2011, ShareAction supported the advocacy group Access in questioning the role of telecommunications companies when it comes to human rights issues. The initiative was born out of Vodafone's decision in January to obey Mubarak's government order to shut down its mobile and internet networks in Egypt. In Vodafone's AGM (26 July 2011) Access asked the company to take steps to prevent the repetition of such acts. Access published an action plan for telecommunications companies to ensure the protection of fundamental human rights issues.
Health and human rights
- Patents vs Patients"
In 2006, the Swiss pharmaceutical company Novartis launched a court case against India, challenging the country's patent law to develop generic drugs. NGOs claimed that this could prevent some of the world's poorest people from receiving vital medicines. ShareAction joined Oxfam in a campaign to block Novartis legal action; with ShareAction pointing out the risk for reputational damage for the company should the case proceed. The two charities mobilised members of pension funds worth £1.7trn, asking them to put pressure on Novartis by using their shareholder power. On 6 August 2007, Novartis dropped its appeal.
- Unearth Justice
In 2008, ShareAction launched a joint campaign with CAFOD in order to raise concern about the impact of mining companies on human rights in the developing world. ShareAction and CAFOD sent briefings to 400 large UK pension funds and asset managers asking them to put pressure on mining companies about the ethical and investment risk of their policies.
Research and publications
ShareAction regularly publishes investor rankings. In December 2010, ShareAction published a survey of fund managers' performance on engagement and transparency in the UK. "Stewardship in the Spotlight" was the first study of its kind since the launch of the Financial Reporting Council's Stewardship Code. The report ranked the 29 largest asset managers who invest on behalf of UK pension funds and retail clients. According to the survey, 41% of the asset managers make no information publicly available on engagement activities, while 17% do not disclose voting data.
In April 2012, ShareAction published its report "The Stewardship Lottery: The Governance Gap in Contract-Based Pensions" which assessed the responsible investment practices of the ten largest contract-based pension providers in the UK. The report found that only one of the providers analysed had signed up to the UK Stewardship Code.
In November 2012 ShareAction published 'The Missing Link: Lessons from the 'Shareholder Sping'. The report looked at the behaviour of institutional investors during the so-called 'Shareholder Spring' of 2012. The report found that 72% of investors were opposed to a binding vote on executive pay when the government first consulted them. The report also looked at how investors voted at certain high profile company AGMs and exposed apparent inconsistencies in voting behaviour.
In December 2012 ShareAction published its report 'Ethically Engaged: A survey of UK ethical funds'. The report surveyed the majority of ethical fund providers and ranked them according to their "responsibility rating". The report found many ethical funds to be using 'outdated' screening methods which do not reflect customers' views. The report also found that 45% of ethical funds do not disclose their full holdings and that many funds fail to engage on ethical issues with companies in which they invest.
Policy and public affairs
ShareAction's policy work aims to remove unnecessary regulatory barriers to the encouragement of responsible investment practices. Their March 2012 publication "The Enlightened Shareholder" looked at current interpretations of fiduciary duty, positing that they were unnecessarily restricted to the "duty to maximise returns".
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- Civil Society, 1 May 2011, Gareth Jones, “Investors pressure top companies on low pay”, http://www.civilsociety.co.uk/finance/news/content/8886/investors_pressure_top_companies_on_low_pay
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- Investment Sense, 3 May 2011, “High profile investors back campaign for “living wage”, http://www.investmentsense.co.uk/high-profile-investors-back-campaign-for-living-wage/
- The Sunday Times, 1 May 2011, James Ashton, “Goldman Sachs nun wants Britain to end low wage habit”, http://www.thesundaytimes.co.uk/sto/business/Finance/article615879.ece
- The Independent, Mark Leftly, 1 May 2011, “FTSE firms must pay living wage, says 'shareholder nun'”, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/ftse-firms-must-pay-living-wage-says-shareholder-nun-2277277.html
- BBC, 2 May 2011, “Living wage' campaign backed by investors worth £13bn”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-13253547
- The Independent, 3 May 2011, Sarah Morrison, “Protesters demand 'living wage”, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/protesters-demand-living-wage-2278044.html
- HR Magazine, 4 May 2011, David Woods, “FTSE 100 employers lobbied to address the issue of low pay in their businesses”, http://www.hrmagazine.co.uk/hro/news/1019397/ftse-100-employers-lobbied-address-issue-low-pay-business
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- Telegraph, Harry Wilson and Andrew Trotman, “Barclays AGM: as it happened: April 27, 2011”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8476157/Barclays-AGM-as-it-happened-April-272011.html
- Telegraph, Harry Wilson, 18 May 2011, “Lloyds Banking Group AGM - as it happened”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/banksandfinance/8520259/Independent-Commission-on-Banking-interim-report-live.html
- Liberal Conspiracy, 11 May 2011, “Pushing for the Living Wage, shareholder-activist style”, http://liberalconspiracy.org/2011/05/11/pushing-for-the-living-wage-shareholder-activist-style/
- The Scotsman, 18 May 2011, Erikka Askeland, “Gerry Grimstone defies protests over top Standard Life pay”, http://thescotsman.scotsman.com/business/Gerry-Grimstone-defies-protests-over.6770008.jp
- Morning Star, Louise Nousratpour, 7 July 2011, “Big business told to cough up”, http://www.morningstaronline.co.uk/news/content/view/full/106802
- Carrick Gazette, 8 July 2011, “MP backs living wage”, http://www.carricktoday.co.uk/news/local-headlines/mp_backs_living_wage_1_1722760
- 8 July 2011, “Andrew George urges Big Companies to pay Living Wages", http://andrewgeorge.org.uk/featured-articles/andrew-george-urges-big-companies-to-pay-living-wages/
- BBC, 22 February 2010, “Campaign on tar sands extraction targets oil investors”, http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/business/8527853.stm
- The Observer, 21 February 2010, Ruth Sunderland, “The responsible investment revolution begins here”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/feb/21/fairpensions-responsible-investment
- Independent, 10 December 2007, Cahal Milmo, “The biggest environmental crime in history”, http://www.independent.co.uk/environment/the-biggest-environmental-crime-in-history-764102.html
- The Guardian, Monday 18 January 2010, Terry Macalister, “Shell faces shareholder revolt over Canadian tar sands project”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/jan/18/shell-shareholders-fury-tar-sands
- Bloomberg, Fred Pals, 19 January 2010, “Shell Investors Seek Review of Oil-Sands Operations”, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=aqNvExHVm3FU
- Telegraph, Rowena Mason, 8 February 2010, “BP faces investor revolt over Canadian oil sands project”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/7182811/BP-faces-investor-revolt-over-Canadian-oil-sands-project.html
- Bloomberg, 8 February 2010, Fred Pals, “BP Shareholders Protest Canadian Oil Sands Project”, http://www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=newsarchive&sid=agncUeKHmHJo
- Daily Finance, Adrian Holliday, 13 April 2010, “Shell prepares for shareholder dust-up”, http://www.dailyfinance.co.uk/2010/04/13/shell-prepares-for-shareholder-dust-up/
- Responsible Investor, 30 March 2010, Hugh Wheelan, “BP tar sands resolution campaign hit as UK pension funds back company management”, http://www.responsible-investor.com/home/print/bp_tar_sands/
- Herald Scotland, 15 April 2010, Tim Sharp, “BP comes under fire over oil sands”, http://www.heraldscotland.com/business/corporate-sme/bp-comes-under-fire-over-oil-sands-1.1020985
- Independent, 15 April 2010, Holly Williams, “BP to continue with tar sands project”, http://www.independent.co.uk/news/business/news/bp-to-continue-with-tar-sands-project-1946116.html
- Guardian, 21 April 2010, Heather Christie, “BP investors: heads stuck in tar sands”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/cifamerica/2010/apr/21/bp-tar-sands?utm_source=twitterfeed&utm_medium=twitter
- IPE, 19 May 2010, Nyree Stewart, “11% of shareholders revolt over Shell tar sands resolution”, http://www.ipe.com/news/11-of-shareholders-revolt-over-shell-tar-sands-resolution_35417.php
- Scotsman, Victoria Thomson, 19 May 2010, “Shell investors reject tar sands resolution”, http://business.scotsman.com/business/Shell-investors-reject-tar-sands.6302804.jp
- Financial Post, 10 March 2010, Carrie Tait, “British MPs turn up oil sands heat”, http://www.financialpost.com/news-sectors/energy/story.html?id=2668062
- Pensions Age, 11 March 2010, Sophie Baker “MPs' pension scheme urged to take ethical stance”, http://www.pensionsage.com/pa/MPs-pension-scheme-urged-to-take-ethical-stance.php
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- Unison Active, 5 April 2010, “BP/Shelll Tar Sands Campaign Hots up- 4,000 activists contact pensions funds”, http://unisonactive.blogspot.com/2010/04/bpshell-tar-sands-campaign-hots-up-4000.html
- The Observer, 4 April 2010, Ruth Sunderland, “Shareholders at loggerheads over vote on BP's tar sands development”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2010/apr/04/bp-investors-row-tar-sands
- IPE Magazine, 1 May 2010, Nyree Stewart, “Funds boost engagement”, http://www.ipe.com/magazine/funds-boost-engagement_34820.php?issue=
- This is Money, 24 May 2010, Tara Evans, “How investors are holding companies to account”, http://www.thisismoney.co.uk/money/investing/article-1694771/How-investors-are-holding-companies-to-account.html
- Telegraph, 6 May 2010, Sally Williams, “Power struggle over Canada's 'dirty oil' sands”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/personalfinance/pensions/7682864/Power-struggle-over-Canadas-dirty-oil-sands.html
- 23 April 2010, “Burning oil rig sinks, setting stage for spill; 11 still missing”, http://articles.boston.com/2010-04-23/news/29281188_1_gulf-restoration-network-doug-helton-oil-rig
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- IPE, 2 June 2010, Nyree Stewart, “BP debacle highlights need for responsible ownership”, http://www.ipe.com/news/bp-debacle-highlights-need-for-responsible-ownership_35596.php
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- Guardian, “Shell North Sea oil spill - as it happened”, http://www.guardian.co.uk/environment/blog/2011/aug/16/shell-north-sea-oil-spill-live
- BBC, 13 August 2011, “Shell fights spill near North Sea oil platform”, http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-14513509
- Telegraph, 16 August 2011, Rowena Mason, “Oil leak is threat to Shell hope in Arctic”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/newsbysector/energy/oilandgas/8705209/Oil-leak-is-threat-to-Shell-hope-in-Arctic.html
- Dow Jones Newswires, Alexis Flynn, 16 August 2011, “UK Regulators Step Up Pressure On Shell Over Oil Spill”, http://www.foxbusiness.com/markets/2011/08/16/uk-regulators-step-up-pressure-on-shell-over-oil-spill/
- Daily Mail, 4 February 2011, “Vodafone complains after Egyptian government forced it to broadcast pro-Mubarak text messages during riots”, http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1353303/Egypt-protests-Vodafone-complains-government-force-pro-Mubarak-texts.html
- The Telegraph, 8 August 2011, Katherine Rushton, “Egyptian riots put dent in Vodafone's growth”, http://www.telegraph.co.uk/finance/8687459/Egyptian-riots-put-dent-in-Vodafones-growth.html
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