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Asking sustainability questions at general shareholders’ meetings

Since 1995 we have been a loyal visitor to general shareholders’ meetings (AGMs). Every year, we ask critical questions (engagement) to the directors of around 40 Dutch, listed companies, to promote sustainable business operations.

These questions relate to three ESG (Environmental, Social & Governance) themes, over a period of three years. Every year we change one theme, so that we stay up to date and gain insight into the performance of companies within a theme over several years. In 2022, VBDO is asking questions about biodiversity, working conditions in the chain and diversity.

AGM calendar 2022

You can find an overview of our planned AGM visits for this year in our 2022 AGM calendar. You can find a list of last year’s (2021) VBDO AGM visits here.

AGM engagement report & webinar

This seasons’ findings will be stated in our annual AGM engagement report and presented by the end of June, beginning of July. You can find the 2021 AGM engagement report here. The results were discussed in the AGM Engagement Webinar 2021.

Collective engagement

In 2022 we will start with three collective engagement trajectories; plastic pollution (on the demand side), antibiotic resistance (AMR), and biodiversity and mining. VBDO’s collective engagement consists of, among other things, extensive research and setting up working groups, with the ultimate aim of engaging in discussions with underperforming companies.

VBDO’s engagement process

Engagement at each AGM is preceded by in-depth research of the company’s sustainability performance over the previous year. This research included analysing the company’s annual report and sustainability report(s), as well as undertaking web-based research and consulting with relevant experts and NGOs.

Following these analyses, relevant issues are selected and questions are formulated. The questions are shared with the selected companies and VBDO conducts meetings and calls prior to the AGMs in order to enhance our understanding of each company’s strategies and performance. Based on these conversations, VBDO then selects the most material questions to ask each company’s Board of Directors at its AGM.

VBDO strives for an open exchange of ideas about a company’s sustainability policies and practices, to improve overall sustainability performance. The figure above shows our AGM engagement process. The process is updated and developed over the years where necessary to ensure that we have the greatest possible impact.

Setting the pace 
Accelerating and decelerating sustainability in times of crisis
AGM Report 2021