Voting rights give shareowners the opportunity—and the responsibility—to participate in the governance and activities of publicly owned corporations. When shareowners engage actively, corporate responsibility is strengthened and the prospects for favorable long-term financial performance will likely be enhanced.
As reflected in the Fund’s Democratic Practice program framework, proxy voting and other shareholder engagement provide meaningful opportunities for participation in institutional decision making and are thus important components of the Fund’s mission-aligned investing initiatives.
In late 2013, the RBF decided to move away from commingled funds, whereby investments are combined with the assets of other clients, which limited the Fund's ability to exercise proxy voting rights. The Fund changed the structure of its portfolio to direct ownership in order to restore its shareholder engagement opportunities.
In early 2014, the RBF hired Agility as its new Outsourced Chief Investment Office to manage the assets of the Fund. In 2015 and 2016, the Fund directed Agility to vote its proxies according to the Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) Sustainability U.S. Proxy Voting Guidelines [PDF], which are broadly aligned with the RBF’s mission. The RBF developed its own proxy voting guidelines [PDF] for 2017 and now partners with ISS in the implementation and subsequent reporting phases of shareholder engagement and proxy voting.