Raising their Voices: Shareholders’ Soft Engagement at Annual General Meetings

53 Pages Posted: 11 Dec 2022 Last revised: 8 Apr 2023

See all articles by Alix Auzepy

Alix Auzepy

University of Giessen

Christina E. Bannier

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen

Fabio Martin

University of Giessen - Department of Finance

Multiple version iconThere are 2 versions of this paper

Date Written: December 5, 2022

Abstract

The right to speak and ask questions at annual general meetings (AGMs) represents one of the few avenues for shareholders to interact directly and publicly with the firm's management. We examine the tone and content of shareholder communication during AGMs with a focus on environmental, social, and governance (ESG) issues. Using AGM transcripts of U.S. companies between 2007 and 2021, we find that both institutional and non-institutional shareholders are vocal about sustainability topics, with varying degrees of importance assigned to different ESG issues based on their individual relationship with the firm. Shareholders are demonstrably more vocal and negative about ESG issues at AGMs of firms with poor sustainability performance. Our findings suggest that the AGM dialogue may serve as a barometer of a firm's ability (or inability) to meet shareholder expectations, highlighting ESG areas that require improvement.

Keywords: shareholder engagement, annual general meeting, ESG, textual analysis

JEL Classification: G03, G23, G34, G39

Suggested Citation

Auzepy, Alix and Bannier, Christina E. and Martin, Fabio, Raising their Voices: Shareholders’ Soft Engagement at Annual General Meetings (December 5, 2022). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4293762 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4293762

Alix Auzepy

University of Giessen ( email )

Licher Str. 64
Giessen, 35394
Germany

Christina E. Bannier

Justus-Liebig-University Giessen ( email )

Licher Str. 62
Gießen, 35394
Germany
+49 641 99 22551 (Phone)

Fabio Martin (Contact Author)

University of Giessen - Department of Finance ( email )

Giessen
Germany

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