New blood at Wall Street’s old guard rattles Corporate America

by Jessica Dinapoli, Ross Kerber
June 3, 2021

A new generation of executives at the world’s biggest asset managers is helping drive an uprising against Corporate America that environmental and social justice activists have long campaigned for.

The big mutual fund firms, whose stock holdings amount to trillions of dollars, used to be loyal members of the corporate establishment. They cast their votes at shareholder meetings largely as instructed by the management of companies in their portfolios, on issues ranging from CEO pay to carbon emission reporting. They rarely discussed their decisions publicly.

This year marks a sea change as top funds throw more of their weight behind investor challenges to companies on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues and put companies on notice by often choosing to publicize how and why they voted, a Reuters review of voting results and fund firms’ new disclosures shows.