Active Investor Impact Update

First Quarter 2023


ICCR Legacy Award


Inclusive Finance


EM Sustainability


Shareholder Advocacy


US Value Strategy Awards


Ethical AI & Digital Inclusion


In the News


From the Commons


Engagement Highlights

Heim, Steven

Recipient of ICCR’s 2023 Legacy Award

Boston Common’s Steven Heim

We are proud to congratulate Boston Common’s Director of ESG Research, Steven Heim, on being choosen for the ICCR Legacy Award. In its 12th year, the award recognizes an individual whose work and influence has had a tremendous positive impact on corporate policies and practices. Steven Heim is a founding member of the Boston Common team with over thirty years experience in sustainable and responsible investing. His commitment and expertise shine through his deep, research-derived perspective, unique lifelong personal and professional commitment to sustainability and inclusion, and his many successful innovations to the process of sustained investor dialogue with corporate leadership. An impactful leader and thoughtful contributor, Steven has been at the forefront of three major transformative efforts to create a more just and sustainable world through investor and corporate action. His considered and collaborative approach to corporate engagement has led to positive long-term change.

Steven’s impactful engagement efforts:

  • The Low Carbon Energy Transition
  • Indigenous People’s Rights
  • Just Transition to a Sustainable Future

Steven’s impact and influence throughout his career stand out, and we are proud to celebrate his legacy as a changemaker.

Inclusive Finance

Inclusion in financial systems can help individuals benefit from market growth, save for retirement, and reduce burdens on social support mechanisms.

Racial justice reached a flashpoint in the summer of 2020, motivating many institutions to finally commit to change. Corporations, including large banks, made ambitious pledges to close racial wealth gaps or reduce economic inequality, but they often failed to recognize that financial inequality is both a symptom and a driver of systemic racism and socioeconomic disparities.

In 2022, Boston Common engaged 11 large US banks on Inclusive Finance commitments to assess progress under those commitments—whether they are sufficient and what challenges remain. Our findings suggest banks are taking genuine steps but the level of ambition does not meet the challenge of adequately addressing the systemic drivers of financial equality. While many banks have made inroads in strengthening governance structures, current programs fail to sufficiently consider ecosystem factors in strategy, are not integrated into core business models, and often broadcast new regulatory requirements as commitments and pledges. Stakeholder voice, accountability, integration, and regulatory support are critical to avoid repeating past failed inclusive finance initiatives and spur meaningful change. Boston Common calls for accountability, transparency, impact, and innovation from large US banks to address the needs of BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and people of color) and low-income communities.

Please watch for our upcoming engagement report on Inclusive Finance.

Inclusive Finance
Inclusive Finance


As Emerging Markets (EM) governments chart a return toward growth, they are increasingly aligning economic policies and capital commitments with sustainability goals. EM companies are taking advantage of this trend and becoming global sustainability leaders in the process. In her new piece, Boston Common’s EM Portfolio Manager, Liz Su shows us why Emerging Markets hold a winning-hand in a sustainability-driven economy.


The Many Dimensions of Shareholder Advocacy

What is shareholder advocacy and why it is important?

Shareholder advocacy is top of mind for investors when evaluating an authentic ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) investment strategy. In addition to embedding ESG considerations into the research and investment process, a complete ESG-integrated investment approach calls for thoughtful, effective, and sustained shareholder advocacy. This critical, multi-dimensional set of tasks activates investor capital in pursuit of financial returns as well as intentional impact.
At Boston Common, shareholder advocacy means using our voice as investors and shareholders to drive responsible risk management and positive change in corporate policies, processes, and products. As equity owners in a company, we have unique access to management teams. While the specific ways in which investors can engage with companies varies from country to country based on regulation and market conventions, active engaged investors universally have the opportunity to seek transparency and accountability, while promoting long-term thinking and action.

Such responsible stewardship is the foundation of Boston Common’s long history and leadership in shareholder advocacy. Since our founding in 2003, active ownership has been integral to our investment philosophy and our team has played a leadership role in building the field. We continue to dynamically broaden and deepen our engagement to address emerging and impactful risks and opportunities across the Environmental, Social, and Governance challenges of our time.

Our stewardship efforts can take many forms. Below are some examples of how we generate impact as engaged investors:

  • Sustained Dialogue
  • Proxy Voting
  • Shareholder Resolutions
  • Issue Area Initiatives
  • Investor & Multi-Stakeholder Coalitions
  • Public Policy

Read on to learn more about the different ways we engage portfolio companies and our shareholder advocacy efforts.

Shareholder Advocacy

Boston Common’s US Value Strategy Awarded for Outstanding Performance

Boston Common’s US Value equity strategy was recognized with two PSN Top Guns awards at the end of 2022, a notable honor, particularly for a fossil fuel free strategy in a year when Energy was the best performing sector.

In her role as Lead US Value Portfolio Manager, Boston Common Founder Geeta Aiyer brings more than 30 years of experience in sustainable investing, leveraging her expertise to navigate volatile market environments with an ESG-integrated approach.

Guns 4Q 2022
Top Guns 4Q
Ethical AI Progress

Ethical Artificial Intelligence and Digital Inclusion

World Benchmarking Alliance Digital Inclusion Collective Impact Coalition

Full digital inclusion cannot be achieved without a focus on ethical and responsible use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) & algorithms. We risk unintended consequences when ethics and responsible use are not considered across the technology development cycle, R&D, distribution, monitoring, & sales. One of Boston Common’s engagement priorities is digital inclusion, zeroing in on the ethical use and adoption of AI by technology companies to support digital human rights globally.

Boston Common is engaging 40 companies on adopting ethical AI policies as part of the WBA Digital Inclusion Collective Impact Coalition (CIC). The coalition, with Boston Common acting as the lead investor alongside Fidelity International, brings together stakeholders across sectors to collaborate and coordinate action to drive positive change and ensure corporate responsibility.

2023 Progress Update

There has been notable progress since the Digital Inclusion CIC was formed in 2022. An additional 14 companies adopted ethical AI policies in the past year bringing the total to 44.

Portfolio Company Highlights

  • Boston Common has actively engaged SK Telecom and Tencent. Both companies adopted ethical AI policies in 2022.
  • Substantive dialogue with Alibaba, SK Hynix, NTT, and Verizon on digital inclusion.
  • Alibaba was the most improved company in the 2022 WBA benchmark (from 16 to 41/100) supported by:
  • Improved transparency through its new ESG report.
  • Initiatives to provide online and offline classes on digital literacy for the elderly in China.
  • Partnership with an African nonprofit to teach computer programming to women across the globe.
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In The News

From the Commons

Boston Common welcomed new Investment Team member Julie Praline and new Head of Operations & Technology, Tom Richardson.

Ally McDonald and Geeta Aiyer toured Europe in March with our partners ABN Amro.

Shareowner Engagement Highlights

Action on Deforestation

Boston Common had dialogues on investor expectations with Essity and Mondi regarding certification of sustainable wood fiber and ensuring full traceability.

  • Essity wood pulp is 100% FSC1 or PEFC2 certified primarily from either the Nordic countries or Brazil but never from Indonesia or the US where they cannot source 100% certified fiber.
  • Building on Mondi’s Zero Deforestation commitment, our dialogue focuses on full traceability and the regional approaches necessary to ensure it. In Brazil, for example, sourcing from plantations is common, whereas South Africa has a more community-centric approach in which communities own the land.

We followed up on our 2022 meeting with Shiseido, requesting the company review its latest assessment to improve deforestation and biodiversity efforts. Shiseido’s goal is to achieve 100% sustainable palm oil sourcing by 2026 and 100% sustainable paper use for product packaging by 2023.

US Shareholder Proposal Wins


We withdrew our resolution after Carrier publicly committed to SBTi (Science Based Targets Initiative) and to expanding its Scope 3 emissions disclosure by the end of 2023. We began engaging Carrier on refrigerants in 2021.


In response to the 2022 majority vote (60.4%) on lobbying, Netflix enhanced its disclosure on oversight and process including:

  • Globe scope, board oversight, alignment, and escalation process
  • Trade associations list by category
  • Public policy positions


We withdrew our resolution on the Just Transition1 with Wabtec after the company agreed to provide more disclosure on how it is addressing workers and communities in its transition plans including enhanced disclosure in 2023 on stakeholder engagement & workforce composition and ongoing dialogue to guide use of transition disclosure frameworks and oversight in 2024.

The information in this document should not be considered a recommendation to buy or sell any security. There is no assurance that any securities we discuss will remain in an account’s portfolio at the time you receive this document. The securities discussed do not represent an account’s entire portfolio and may represent only a small portion of an account’s holdings. It should not be assumed that any securities transactions we discuss were or will prove to be profitable. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal.

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