Supermarket giant Sainsbury’s was in the news in March 2022, as a group of its shareholders filed a ‘resolution’ demanding that the company pay all of its workers the real Living Wage.
Whilst the big institutional investors made the headlines, the campaign would not have been possible without the support of 108 individual shareholders. Distinct from the actors we stereotypically think of as making up the financial system, like banks or investment funds, these individuals play an equally important role influencing some of the biggest players in the global economy.
Shareholder activists are any individuals or organisations with a stake in a company looking to make a difference to the way it’s being run.
Every share counts
Whether knowingly or not, everyone has an impact on the financial system and vice versa.
Companies rely on investment to fund new projects, such as building a wind farm or drilling an oil well. This investment comes from several places, including your pensions, savings accounts, and insurance payments, which are overseen by banks, pension funds and asset managers working to increase their value.
What this means is that we are all linked to the investment system and, by extension, to the companies it invests in. The companies having the biggest impact on the world are funded by us. So, whether you have lots of savings or not, we all live in a world where the consequences of decisions made within the financial system massively affect us and our planet.
Even the largest corporations like BP or Tesco are accountable to their shareholders, including you. That means that we can all push them to do more to protect the environment, reduce poverty, or improve public health.