You do not have to be a direct shareholder in a company for a company’s actions to affect you. You are a stakeholder.
In Australia, many people are members of superannuation funds and these are often invested in companies. You may not be aware that as a superannuation fund member you are likely an indirect shareholder of a large number of companies. Find out more about how to Vote Your Super.
As a super fund member you can advocate with your fund for it to become a shareholder advocate on your behalf. You can advocate for it to invest or divest as appropriate. The recent decision of city of New York to divest from fossil fuels has been influenced by stakeholders.
Examples of Successful Stakeholder Advocacy
An example of successful stakeholder engagement is the demise of apartheid. The efforts of US States (such as Connecticut and Massachusetts), combined with the two biggest pension funds in America (those for the staff of New York City and the state of California) plus some other investors, effectively cut South Africa out of the global debt market. It was one of the most effective sanction efforts. The story is told more fully in Socially Responsible Investment A Global Revolution, by Russell Sparkes (Wiley and Sons 2002).
Examples of stakeholder advocacy in New Zealand
The Council for Socially Responsible Investment (CSRI) established in New Zealand in 2003 has similar aims to that of ACCR. In 2002 the New Zealand Government had set up the NZ Superannuation Fund, designed to grow to around NZ$100-120 billion, a sum even greater than the total of all the managed funds in the country. Hence it made sense for the CSRI to focus on government rather than corporate investment.
CSRI has had a number of successes including encouraging the government to pull out of its investment in tobacco and landmines. It also demonstrated the inadequacy of the legislated criteria for suitable investment by NZ Government funds. It exposed the irony that its funds were actually investing in nuclear weapons, despite the fact that, for over three decades, the New Zealand Government had campaigned against the French and USA governments about their involvement with nuclear weaponry. The Accident Compensation Corporation in NZ has subsequently ceased such nuclear weapon investment although the New Zealand Superannuation Fund still persists in this practice.