If you own shares of stock in any publicly traded company, you have a voice in how that company is run.
Each year, hundreds of shareholder resolutions are filed on a wide range of environmental, social, and governance issues at companies across all sectors of our economy. Examples include asking companies to set goals to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, report on gender and racial pay disparities, disclose political influence spending, and more.
Any shareholder can vote on a company’s shareholder resolutions—but the process can be cumbersome and confusing, especially if you own shares in a lot of different companies.
Now there’s an app for that.
As You Vote launches
As You Sow, the nation’s leading nonprofit shareholder advocacy organization, has introduced As You Vote, a program to help individual and institutional investors vote on shareholder resolutions for companies in which they own stock. Individual shareholders can cast proxy ballots through an app platform called iconik.
“Every individual shareholder can now express their voice in shareholder democracy and vote for justice and sustainability on every item of every ballot,” says As You Sow’s CEO Andrew Behar. “Most individual shareholders stay on the sidelines and don’t vote because they are overwhelmed by complicated ballots. …Now anyone can take the field and impact corporate proposals on climate change, racial justice, political spending, and other critical issues.”
Shareholder ballots—called proxy ballots because they are voted remotely by proxy rather than in person at the company’s annual meeting—are emailed or postal mailed to shareholders. Anyone who owns stock in multiple companies can quickly be overwhelmed with proxy voting messages. Proxy ballots can be confusing, and it can take time to research the details of every resolution.
As You Vote streamlines the process by setting up proxy votes in the app on a wide range of shareholder resolutions according to guidelines developed by As You Sow and Proxy Impact, a proxy voting consulting service that promotes responsible business practices. The app is informed by scorecards and ratings on topics such as racial justice, workplace equity, clean corporations, and overpaid CEOs.
When you sign up for As You Vote, it links to your email to send a copy of your shareholder ballots to the app. You retain full voting control and can change recommended votes if you like, or you can vote the slate set up in the app. You can also upgrade to the paid version of the app ($5 per month) to set up your own customized voting profile.
Individual investors can have a big impact
Individual investors hold 25% of all public equities, more than the total ownership of BlackRock, Vanguard, and State Street (three of the biggest institutional investing firms) combined. But until now, it was easier for large asset managers to vote large numbers of proxies, giving their priorities an advantage over individual shareholders in shareholder resolution votes.
As You Vote helps correct this imbalance by boosting the votes of a larger, more democratic, and more diverse group of shareholders for social justice and a stable climate–individual shareholders with values like yours.
“This new technology is fully democratizing the public markets, and there’s no going back,” says Behar. “A new generation of investors is demanding to be heard and we are handing them the megaphone.”
As You Vote also allows institutional investors such as asset managers, endowments, and foundations to vote their values on proxy ballots through the Broadridge ProxyEdge platform.
Download the app today to be ready for the 2024 proxy season!