Last week I received proxy voting materials in the mail for one of the funds my 401k is invested in. If you’re like me, when you get a big booklet filled with fine print about finance, you’re not too excited to read it. However, I knew that a proxy statement deserves attention, because proxy voting is one of the ways shareholders can have a direct impact on how their invested money is used.
What is a proxy statement, you ask? It’s a booklet containing various proposals for shareholders to vote on, and it comes with a card that allows you to cast your vote. There were three proposals on my proxy card (with my initial reactions):
- Elect a board of trustees for the fund (“Sure!”)
- Change the focus of the fund from financial investments to government investments (“Why not?”)
- Require the board to institute procedures to prevent holding investments in companies that substantially contribute to genocide or crimes against humanity (“This is what I expect you do be doing anyway, so yes!”)
Obviously the last proposal caught my attention. It was submitted by a group of concerned shareholders, and it’s completely in the spirit of what socially responsible investing is about. In several places in the proxy statement and on the card itself, the company listed the existing board’s recommendations for how shareholders should vote. I found it discouraging (but not surprising) is that the board recommended voting against the “don’t fund genocide” proposal.
Read the conclusion on Fair for All Guide.