Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility releases annual report

The tower of Adams House at Harvard University.

The tower of Adams House at Harvard University. Stephanie Mitchell/Harvard Staff Photographer

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The Corporation Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (CCSR), a committee of the Harvard Corporation, today released its 2021-2022 Annual Report 

The report summarizes the work and activities of the CCSR during the 2021-2022 academic year, including the committee’s consideration of matters of shareholder responsibility in relation to investments by Harvard Management Company (HMC), particularly those that touch on social and environmental issues.  

Also included in the report is guidance from the Advisory Committee on Shareholder Responsibility (ACSR), a 12-person committee made up of Harvard faculty, students, and alumni. The ACSR is responsible for advising the CCSR on the development of proxy guidelines on how investors (including HMC’s external managers) can address shareholder resolutions on a range of different topics, as well as offering advice to the CCSR on specific resolutions directed at publicly traded companies held in HMC’s portfolio. The CCSR makes final decisions on both the topical guidelines for voting on resolutions and on how the University votes on specific resolutions.  

Over time, HMC’s investment model has changed such that Harvard directly owns significantly fewer shares in publicly traded companies than in the past. HMC has come to rely increasingly on pooled investments and commingled funds typically managed by outside investment firms, rather than directly owning stock in individual companies, as the means to achieve wide exposure to public equity markets. While the University and HMC recognize that external managers may not necessarily share Harvard’s views on every issue, HMC expects its external managers to have a robust approach to stewardship and to make the kind of informed voting decisions on shareholder resolutions that Harvard seeks to achieve through the guidelines approved by the CCSR.  

During the 2021-2022 academic year, the CCSR and ACSR devoted the bulk of discussions to developing and updating proxy voting guidelines in subject areas including climate commitments, civil rights or racial equity audit/analysis, biodiversity, and cybersecurity and data protection. The guidelines are shared with HMC’s external managers and are also made available to the public, so that other institutional investors, if interested, may be informed by Harvard’s approach to such issues.  

Read the full report on the Shareholder Responsibility Committee’s website.