We engage with businesses in our portfolio in order to understand them better and to encourage a more progressive approach to environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues. Engagement is undertaken directly by members of WHEB’s investment team and any new insights or information is fed directly back into the investment process.
Stewardship & Engagement
Stewardship and engagement have always been core activities for WHEB. Critically, and still unusually, this work is undertaken by the investment team itself. As a long-term investor, we play an important role in advocating for more progressive practices. As importantly, we can also benefit from these improved practices.
Voting Summary (2020)
Votes against management
Votes with management
Do not vote 1
Votes withheld 2
Votes abstained 3
1 WHEB’s policy has been not to vote at company meetings where we sold the shares between registration and the actual meeting date. In 2021 we plan to vote all of our shares for which we are registered.
2 At some company meetings voting ‘against’ is not an option. In these cases, we elected to withhold our vote.
3 We elected to abstain on votes where the company had already indicated that it would withdraw the particular resolution.
Company engagement in 2020 (by topic)
Governance (not ESG Related)
ESG Disclosure and Governance
In 2020, we engaged on 112 occasions with 38 companies representing 81% of the strategy.
In many cases we engage businesses on more than one issue in the course of the year. Approximately 50% of these engagements were ‘deep’ engagements in which we had more than three interactions with company executives on the issue in question.
With 37% of engagement on corporate governance issues, this was once again the most common area of company engagement. Director independence and CEO remuneration were areas that received the most attention in 2020. Social issues accounted for 11% of engagement and focused most notably on gender diversity and the management of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Environmental issues (25%) and ESG disclosure and governance (27%) accounted for the remainder of our engagement in 2020. Carbon emissions and targets were a key focus of our environmental engagement, while board accountability and executive incentives on sustainability were common themes in engagement on ESG governance.
Company engagement effectiveness 2016-2020
Further details about WHEB’s Engagement and Voting activity please refer to Section 5 of the 2020 Impact Report. Details of our engagement and stewardship policies are available from our website, including how our stewardship activity is governed [weblink https://www.whebgroup.com/media/2021/02/202102-Stewardship-and-engagement-policy.pdf].