The outcome of a vote on a shareholder proposal on tax transparency at Amazon’s AGM last week has been hailed as “significant and much-needed” by one of the co-filers, Greater Manchester Pension Fund (GMPF).
Although the proposal did not pass, just over one-fifth (21%) of independent shareholders voted in favour of the proposal, according to corporate governance and proxy voting advisory firm PIRC. PIRC supported the filing of the proposal by GMPF and OIP Investment Trust.
The proposal requested that Amazon’s board of directors issue a tax transparency report to shareholders based on the Global Reporting Initiative’s tax standard. Supporters of the proposal included Actiam, Norges Bank, Ethos Foundation, Glass Lewis, ISS-SRI, and Legal and General Asset Management. Denmark’s AkademikerPension was also a supporter.
“This is a significant and much-needed vote in favour of stewardship and good governance,” said Tom Harrington of GMPF. “Amazon should heed the message from its investors and commit to real transparency in its tax practices.
“Lockdowns have only exacerbated the pressure on public spending. It is vital that Amazon commits to transparency and paying taxes in full where profits are earned, particularly as a company that saw increased business during lockdowns.”
Katie Hepworth, responsible tax lead at PIRC, said the vote represented a “seismic shift in investor expectations on tax transparency”.
“It puts all companies on notice to disclose country-by-country tax and financial information, especially those multinationals in sectors that have historically singled out for tax avoidance: tech and pharma.”
The vote on the tax transparency proposal took place after the Securities & Exchange Commission sided with shareholders in allowing the motion to progress, after a challenge from the company.
GFANZ in focus as UK lawmakers launch new inquiry
The Environmental Audit Committee (EAC) has launched a new inquiry about the role of the financial sector in the UK’s net-zero transition, with the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ) a key focus.
“A year on from when Mark Carney launched the GFANZ initiative, our committee is keen to explore how this work can be most effective at driving down global emissions,” said EAC chair Philip Dunne.
“Collectively, the alliance represents nearly 40% of global private financial assets, and represents an enormous opportunity to influence meaningful action to cut emissions and support renewable energy generation.”
In tandem with the call for written evidence submissions, the committee is writing to leading signatories to GFANZ that have their headquarters in the UK or have substantial operations here.
Signatories have been asked for a public statement on: their fossil fuel policies; their policies on investment in renewable energy technologies; and on whether current geo-political events impact their view on the International Energy Agency’s (IEA) May 2021 conclusion that no new investment in fossil fuel initiatives is necessary to meet global energy needs if the IEA’s energy pathway for net zero by 2050 is followed.
Impact Management Platform extended to investors
The website of the Impact Management Platform, the successor of the Impact Management Project, has been updated with guidance for investors and financial institutions that are looking to manage their sustainability impacts.
The Platform distinguishes between guidance and resources on managing impact for organisations, and guidance and resources on managing impact for investments. When the Platform announced its creation, it said it would be launching an “investment view” section this year.
Announcing the website extension on LinkedIn, Jo Fackler, called on users of the website to share their feedback to help the Platform partners “progress efforts towards a complete and coherent system of norms and guidance for impact management”.