Triodos Research has released the 2015 Company Engagement Report . Engagement contributes to long-term shareholder value by connecting with companies to increase awareness and motivate change. In 2015, Triodos Research engaged through dialogue or collaboration, 661 times with a total of 280 companies.

Main engagement topics

The topics we discussed the most with companies in 2015 were:

1. Arms
2. Nuclear power
3. Climate change
4. Basic labour rights
5. Animal testing

Every year, we ask questions on a specific topic for which we will further follow-up on during the year in dialogue and also in relation to the Annual General Shareholder Meetings (AGMs). In 2015, we focused on board diversity and specifically gender balance. At the beginning of 2015, Triodos Research sent a letter to 119 investee companies ahead of their AGMs, explaining our main voting principles and raising questions about gender diversity at board level. Thirty seven companies replied to our questions providing additional information and answers.

Engagement during selection phase

In 2015, we engaged with 83 companies during the selection phase. Fifty-seven of the assessed companies responded to our questions and 17 engagement responses were pending at the end of the year. We informed 139 companies of their assessment results.

We actively monitor companies that have been selected for the Triodos Sustainable Investment Universe. During 2015, we engaged 69 times, mostly through dialogue, with 54 companies during the monitoring process.

Collaborative dialogue

Triodos Research also regularly works together with other investors to further steer sustainable performance. We have a number of partnerships that facilitate and encourage such collaborative engagement.

In August 2015, prior to the Volkswagen scandal, a joint investor letter was sent on behalf of Actiam, RobecoSAM, MN Services and Triodos Investment Management, to 17 leading automobile manufacturers, including BMW, Honda Motor, PSA, Renault, Tesla, Toyota and Volkswagen. The letter calls upon companies to prepare for current and future regulatory requirements on fleet emission reductions and to disclose targets and progress to achieve emissions reductions.

On behalf of Triodos Investment Management we co-signed a number of collaborative initiatives organised by members of the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), for example on human rights and animal welfare, and also continued supporting collaborative issues on initiatives signed in prior years, such as the Sustainable Stock Exchange initiative and a statement on responsible palm oil.

Responsible share ownership

As a responsible shareholder, Triodos Research votes at all AGMs of companies we invest in. In 2015, we voted at 125 AGMs. We were able to inform most companies in advance about how we intended to vote at their AGM; 26 companies replied to the feedback letter and in several cases this triggered an interesting debate, solidifying the value added by engagement

Public policy

As part of our engagement activities, we also seek to influence public policies. In 2015, we were involved in several initiatives in the public domain, such as corporate tax, conflict minerals and the G20 Energy Efficiency Finance Task Group.

Engaging to affect change takes time, and it is not easy to change the behaviour of large multinational companies. By asking relevant questions and sharing feedback with these companies we may be able to push the right button to influence a change within the organisation. And when these large companies change, even in a small capacity, the impact can be significant. Witnessing this progress supports any business case for future engagement efforts.

For more information on our engagement tactics and the varying successes, please refer to our 2015 Company Engagement Report

Note: The issues explored in this article are relevant for sustainable investments on the stock market. Triodos Bank believes that our socially responsible investments are a powerful means of promoting our values and working for greater sustainability, while enabling us to offer a complete range of attractive investment options to customers who choose to invest on the stock market.