DWS ESG engagements and proxy voting activities 2020

Active ownership report

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DWS Investment GmbH published its active ownership report with the ESG engagements and proxy voting activities of 2020

In 2020, we accelerated our efforts in active ownership and built on our existing expertise and thought leadership by participating in various industry initiatives but also dynamic discussions with investee companies across our equity and fixed income assets in actively as well as passively managed funds. We managed to substantially increase the number of engagements over the course of the year. Despite the challenging situation or maybe also because of it the discussions with the companies remained very active and constructive.

"We are convinced that governance remains the key element for unlocking the potentials and overseeing the risks arising from the environmental and social dimensions of sustainability."

Nicolas Huber, Head of Corporate Governance

In 2020, we voted for 2355 shareholders' meetings, whereby we voted "Against" Management recommendations 24% of the time and out of all the voted items 67% had at least 1 vote "Against", "Withhold" or "Abstain". Additionally, we attended the AGM of 2 companies with a speech and sent our questions for the virtual AGMs of 22 companies.

More than 1300 companies received our pre-season engagement letter

53 companies were contacted by our thematic engagement letter on climate change

390 companies received our post-season letters for votes against management

We had more than 450 one-on-one engagements with portfolio companies worldwide

We were especially focused on board composition, including independence, diversity as well as ESG oversight; material sustainability issues, executive compensation and capital decisions. Due to the pandemic a key priority of our discussions was the "S" aspect, including the health and safety of employees, customers and the entire value chain as well as the continuity of operations.

In January 2020, we communicated our intention to increase our scrutiny on the accountability of management and boards when it comes to their companies' compliance with internationally accepted ESG standards, such as UN Global Compact principles, the OECD Guidelines for Multinationals etc. and with regards to their management of material climate and other sustainability-related risks. While some companies made important progress, in particular regarding their climate strategies and the disclosures around those, others need more time in preparing for a just transition to a lower carbon economy.

 

We will continue advocating for more ambitious actions in the path to net zero emissions and will hold boards accountable using our voting rights if they fail to adequately address their material ESG issues.

"Our engagement priorities in 2021 will continue revolving around our core values for good corporate governance and environmental and social corporate responsibility. We are convinced the dialogue with investees allows us to gain a better understanding of their existing practices with regards to sustainability risks and opportunities and thereby help us safeguard our investment decisions."

Nezhla Mehmed, LL.M, Corporate Governance Center

Active Ownership: Engagement & Proxy Voting Report 2020

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