Proxy Voting and Shareowner Activities
About Active Ownership
In line with the Fund’s Democratic Practice program objectives, the RBF believes proxy voting and shareholder engagement are important components of its mission-aligned investing initiatives.
The Proxy Voting Guidelines (the “Guidelines”), first adopted by the Fund in 2005 and updated in 2016, are one such set of responsible investing policies. The RBF developed these Guidelines with the understanding that the voting rights that come with common stock ownership are economic assets of the foundation. Conscientious financial stewardship demands that proxy voting rights, like all other economic assets of the foundation, be managed with proper care and attention. Voting rights give shareowners the opportunity—and the responsibility—to participate in the governance and activities of publicly owned corporations. If shareowners engage actively, corporate responsibility will be strengthened and the prospects for favorable long-term financial performance will likely be enhanced.
The transition to an outsourced chief investment office (OCIO) in late 2007 moved the Fund’s asset management into commingled funds; the RBF no longer had direct ownership of its holdings and lost its ability to exercise proxy voting rights. In late 2013, the RBF decided to change the investment structure of the portfolio by moving from commingled funds (where RBF assets were commingled with the assets of other OCIO clients) to a structure whereby the RBF invested directly into the funds of underlying managers. A formal search process for a new OCIO was undertaken and, in early 2014, Perella Weinberg Partners Agility (PWP) was hired as its new OCIO to manage the assets of the Fund. For the 2015 proxy season, the RBF directed PWP to vote its proxies, where possible, according to the ISS Sustainability U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines. In 2015 and 2016, while developing more tailored guidelines in advance of the 2017 proxy season, we used the ISS Guidelines as they are broadly aligned with the RBF’s core mission. The board approved 2017 Guidelines in November 2016. We have engaged ISS to vote our proxies in 2017, and will partner with ISS in the implementation and subsequent reporting phases.