VBDO has been asking questions for 24 years at the General Meetings of Shareholders (AGMs) of listed companies in the Netherlands. We believe it is important to encourage the sustainability performance of companies through engagement. VBDO does this every year on the basis of three priority themes: Climate Adaptation, Living Wage and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDG’s). The results of VBDO’s engagement season 2019 have been written down in the “AGM Engagement Report 2019: Looking Forward” and presented on 2 July 2019 during the AGM Engagement Seminar in Amsterdam. The most important conclusions per theme are given below.
For four years, VBDO has been asking questions about the Living Wage at General Meetings of Shareholders of companies and we are proud to say that the vast majority have taken up the theme. In 2016, three companies referred to paying a wage that allows an employee to support his or her family in basic basic needs, such as housing, education, and food. In 2019 this number rose to 29 companies. While companies promise to conduct research into salary management, VBDO expects investors to keep this theme on the agenda after this four-year period.
Sustainable Development Goals
The Sustainable Development Goals have become commonplace for listed companies, but they are struggling to achieve making a concrete contribution to their goals. All 39 companies have selected SDGs to which they want to contribute. In 2019, VBDO asked 26 times whether companies want to measure their impact on achieving those SDGs. 2019 is also the year that many sustainability strategies expire. VBDO is happy to look ahead to new strategies that have been drawn up in line with achieving the SDGs in 2030.
Climate adaptation was included for the first time this year by VBDO in discussions with companies. Many companies indicate that climate change is an important topic, but they often focus on preventing climate change, while the consequences are already here. VBDO expects companies to conduct research into the opportunities and risks of physical consequences of a changing climate. In addition, it is important that companies take ecological and social aspects into account when drawing up climate adaptation strategies. This year, 18 companies are referring to the recommendations of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD). To increase this number, VBDO asked 42 questions to report climate-related information in line with the TCFD.
View the report here.