Did you know that when you buy a share of stock, it comes with a vote?

You can show up at shareholder meetings and vote (even speak to management), or you can use an easier method called a proxy vote.

Proxy voting is a mechanism that allows shareholders of a company to vote on corporate matters without physically attending the shareholders’ meeting. Instead, shareholders can appoint a proxy to vote on their behalf. The proxy can be an individual, such as a friend or family member, or an institution, like a mutual fund, ETF, or pension fund.

When a company issues a proxy statement before a shareholders’ meeting, it includes details about the issues to be voted upon and provides shareholders with voting instructions. Shareholders can review the proxy statement, make their voting decisions, and then authorize their proxy to vote accordingly.

This can be done through various methods, such as completing a proxy card, voting online, or providing written instructions.

Proxy voting is important for several reasons:

  1. First, it allows shareholders who are unable to attend the meeting, either due to logistical constraints or lack of time, to still participate in the decision-making process. It ensures that the voices of all shareholders are considered, regardless of their physical presence.
  2. Second, proxy voting empowers individual shareholders by giving them a say in matters that affect the company’s governance and direction. This could include ESG initiatives, diversity equity and inclusion (DIE), critical race theory (CRT), political involvement that may run counter to the interests of shareholders. By exercising their vote, investors can express their support or opposition to proposals such as electing woke directors, approving race and gender based quotas, executive compensation, or approving mergers and acquisitions. This helps shape the company’s decisions and holds management accountable.
  3. Furthermore, proxy voting is crucial for maintaining a healthy corporate democracy. It promotes transparency, accountability, and checks and balances within a company. When shareholders actively participate in voting, it reduces the risk of decisions being made without proper oversight, and it encourages responsible corporate behavior.

Most investors are not even aware of this important responsibility.

In fact, they are delegating this power to fund companies and brokerages without realizing it. Many of these firms hold left-wing extremist views, in our opinion, and are using their client’s votes to push unethical social policies via your investments.

What can you do about it?

First, you can vote your proxies by informing your brokerage of this desire. It’s usually a form to fill out. This will work for shares you own directly. It won’t work if you own your investments inside mutual funds or ETFs.

Those votes will be exercised by the fund companies themselves and you have no direct say in the proxy voting. Be sure that your funds are managed by people whose values are aligned with your own. If they aren’t aligned, you may wish to sell the fund and buy something else.

The other option is to work with an investment advisor who is attuned to your values. Your advisor can then, at your direction, vote your proxies for you and/or choose fund companies who have a world view close to yours.

This will save you time and give you a potentially louder voice when your vote is combined with other shareholders with whom the advisor works.

In summary, proxy voting enables shareholders to participate in corporate decision-making by appointing a proxy to vote on their behalf.

It is important for investors to exercise their vote as it allows them to have a say in company matters, influence corporate governance, and promote transparency and accountability.