Companies in Action
Adidas underscores role of sustainability as integral part of its business model at the company’s annual meeting and in its integrated report. Among the various investor engagement strategies, Adidas' Annual General Meeting (AGM) is perhaps the biggest opportunity for educating a broad cross-section of investors and positioning the company’s leadership as informed messengers of the sustainable business strategy. A small but growing number of companies are now integrating sustainability commitments and progress into their annual meetings. At Adidas' 2019 AGM, the company’s CEO provided an overview of the company commitment to sustainability, underscoring how it has successfully integrated sustainability into its business model. Among the updates, Adidas made 5 million shoes with Parley Ocean Plastic in 2018 up from 1 million the previous year, 100% of the cotton used in its products came from sustainable sources and the company is aiming to use 100% recycled polyester by 2024. Furthermore, the company made the shift to releasing an integrated report in 2017 and, since then, it has incorporated sustainability and non-financial updates and priorities in its annual report. In its reporting, Adidas highlights its commitment to systems level change by disclosing its affiliation and motivation for collaboration with more than 10 multi-stakeholder groups in the ESG space.
Intel diversifies investor engagement strategies and leverages process to create long-term value. During its nearly two decades of engaging shareholders on sustainability, Intel has found success by diversifying its engagement strategies and using consistent messaging across its investor communications. In 2018, Intel’s integrated outreach team—a collaborative effort of the corporate responsibility, investor relations and corporate governance teams—met with investors representing an aggregate of over 50% of the company’s outstanding shares to discuss priority sustainability issues. Feedback gathered through this outreach effort helped the company stay apprised of evolving investor expectations and build important relationships. Updates and progress are shared with the board’s Corporate Governance and Nominating committee on a regular basis and the company also continues to further integrate sustainability information into different financial reporting vehicles in response to investor feedback. In 2019, Intel incorporated ESG information into its 2019 10-K, 2019 proxy statement and investor relations website. The company continues to leverage these year-round engagements and reporting mechanisms to strengthen accountability, improve decision-making and create long-term value.
Microsoft fosters integration across internal teams resulting in a more strategic outreach to investors on ESG priorities. For many years, Microsoft has been integrating citizenship priorities throughout the company and engaging its shareholders on relevant ESG issues. Recently, this engagement has expanded from smaller sustainability focused investor firms to receiving requests from large pension funds and other mainstream investors all over the world. In response to this heightened level of investor interest, Microsoft in spring of 2018 established the position of ESG Engagement Director within the of Corporate Secretary’s Office to manage the company’s shareholder engagement on ESG issues. This expanded capacity and integration allows the company to conduct proactive engagement with more than 50 of its top institutional investors representing nearly half of the company’s ownership, conduct investor ESG roadshows in key markets and further reporting efforts to better meet investor expectations. The company is also looking to leverage key members of its board of directors to participate in investor engagements and speaking opportunities. This approach has allowed the company to stay abreast of evolving investor expectations and integrate feedback into its strategy and reporting efforts strategically.