Shareholder Engagement on Environmental, Social, and Governance Performance
CentER Discussion Paper Series No. 2017-040
64 Pages Posted: 31 May 2017 Last revised: 26 Sep 2017
Date Written: June 1, 2017
We study investor activism promoting environmental, social and governance (ESG) improvements by means of a proprietary dataset covering 660 companies globally over 2005-2014. Targets have a higher market share, analyst coverage, stock returns, and liquidity. The engagements lead to significant ESG rating adjustments. Activism is more likely to succeed for companies with a good ex ante ESG track record, and with lower ownership concentration and growth. Successful engagements positively affect sales growth, without changing profitability. Targets outperform matched firms by 2.7% over 6 months post-engagement, while the (ex ante) lowest ESG quartile earns an extra 7.5% over 1 year.
Keywords: investor activism; corporate social responsibility; socially responsible investing (SRI); engagement; environmental; social and governance (ESG)
JEL Classification: G15, G23, G32, G34, G39
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation