As a shareholder and lender, AXA has the opportunity to engage in dialog with the managements of companies from all over the world. Our size and our alliance with other investors mean that our opinion carries weight.
We believe that positive changes in ESG issues (e.g. climate change and corporate governance) can only be brought about if as many companies as possible commit to sustainability. This is what makes it crucial that major shareholders should take their responsibility as shareholders seriously. Here, too, AXA assumes its responsibility by exercising its voting rights. We also engage in dialog with issuers on questions of corporate governance and their approach to environmental and social risks.
Owning shares gives us voting rights as a shareholder and enables us to influence the strategic orientation of issuers. We exercise our voting rights at the general and shareholder meetings of the companies we invest in. Transparency for our customers and for our own shareholders is very important to us. That's why we make our voting behavior public.
In 2020, AXA IM voted at 6247 general meetings, often adopting a critical stance. At 45 percent of the shareholder meetings, AXA did not fully support the proposals of the relevant company’s management.
We care about sustainable investment. However, we don’t want to simply exclude companies from our investments because they don’t yet operate sustainably. On the contrary: Our goal is to assist companies in their process of transformation toward greater sustainability. That’s why we engage in dialog with more than 200 multinational companies.
This strategy of partnership – coupled with the exercising of our voting rights as a shareholder – enables us to play an active part in shaping corporate strategies and business models. In this way, we ensure the case for sustainability is heard more widely. In particular we discuss environmental issues such as the efficient use of natural resources, protection of biodiversity and mitigation of climate change as well as social issues such as corporate governance and employee development. These direct exchanges of views with individual companies also enable us to better assess corporate risks and identify potential.
And in this area, too, AXA relies on partnerships: Along with other major investors, for example, we are in talks with the world’s largest CO2 emitters as part of the Climate Action 100+ investor initiative. Together, we are in a strong negotiating position in relation to the companies we invest in. This enables us to drive positive change more quickly in the areas of the environment, society and the economy – in the interests of a sustainable future.