AXA IM increases engagement by 47% in 2020
- 319 issuers engaged, 6,247 general meetings voted at, and 65,827 proposed company resolutions voted on in 20201 .
- Climate change accounted for highest proportion of total engagements at 27%2 .
- Over 80% of engagements in 2020 linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals3 .
- Over 20 engagement milestones reached, indicating meaningful corporate changes following successful engagement.
Climate change, biodiversity loss, diversity and public health among the key areas for AXA IM’s engagement activities in 2021 and beyond.
AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) engaged with over 300 issuers throughout 2020, versus 217 issuers in 2019, representing a 47% increase on engagements in 2020 despite the challenging environment caused by the impact of Covid-19.
As detailed in its 2020 Active Ownership and Stewardship Report, AXA IM engaged with corporates in over 50 countries throughout the year, driven by its long-term convictions in areas that it considers most urgent and material for investors. In line with the priorities of its Responsible Investment (RI) roadmap4, AXA IM focused its voting power on climate change, biodiversity, human capital, gender equality, public health, data privacy and corporate governance.
The report also highlights that more than 80% of AXA IM’s engagements in 2020 were linked to the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). In addition, the highest levels of engagement focused on climate change (27%), resource & ecosystems (18%) and corporate governance (16%).
AXA IM recorded over 20 engagement milestones, whereby issuers made meaningful corporate changes following successful engagement efforts, with no engagement failures recorded. These successes include meaningful changes in relation to climate change, board independence and business conduct. The firm also noted over 30 instances where it had escalated engagement with issuers, leading to filing resolutions at Annual General Meetings, or divestment in certain cases.
AXA Investment Managers’ Global Head of AXA IM Core, Hans Stoter, commented: “Engagement is central to responsible investment at AXA IM. Our dialogue with companies allows us to actively monitor our investments, and to ensure we maintain open channels that can enable change in order to benefit society, the planet and, of course, our clients.”
“In 2020, our engagement activities took on a dramatic new challenge caused by Covid-19, and it is a testament to the dynamism of our Responsible Investment experts and portfolio managers that over this tough 12 months, we managed to increase the total number of engagements by 47%.”
Driving positive change in 2021 and beyond
AXA IM will continue to focus on expanding its engagement efforts across areas believed to be most material for investors, including:
- Climate change – AXA IM will continue to engage with companies, including those already committed to reducing their carbon footprint, to understand in detail how they intend to achieve their objectives, and help ensure they are ultimately aligned with the goals of the Paris Agreement.
- Biodiversity loss – AXA IM will continue discussions with investee companies and other investors on biodiversity as it further broadens the scope of its engagement, supported by the selection of its biodiversity data provider in September 20205 , to better assess its biodiversity impact in 2021 as well as target companies with the greatest impact.
- Gender equality – Following the launch of the 30% Club France Investor Group in November6 , AXA IM will continue to co-chair the Group in 2021 and push companies on diversity right across their businesses and pipeline, challenging how they develop diverse talent pools internally.
- Public health – AXA IM will remain focused on promoting responsible behaviour in response to Covid-19 to boost the pace and resilience of the global economy’s recovery from the pandemic, leveraging its partnership with the Access to Medicine Foundation7 .
Marco Morelli, Executive Chairman at AXA Investment Managers, commented: “In 2020, despite the pandemic providing notable drop-offs in carbon emissions, we remained focused on our efforts to combat climate change largely through several collective engagement initiatives. We have sought to engage where we think we can have an impact, and have also taken significant strides forward in our own low carbon journey, making commitments in line with the demands we make of carbon intensive investee companies.
“We recognise that every action we take has a consequence and we are serious about ensuring that we uphold the same high standards that we expect to see in others as a fiduciary, as an employer and as a partner.”