This year the Dutch Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (Vereniging van Beleggers voor Duurzame Ontwikkeling - VBDO) has issued sustainable voting advices which can be used when voting at the annual general meeting (AGM) of shareholders of Dutch stock exchange listed companies. Similar to previous years, the voting advice is partly based on research by SOMO.

Every year VBDO visits the AGM’s of the largest Dutch publicly listed companies from the AEX and the Midkap index. During the AGM VBDO asks critical questions about the companies' sustainability policy and votes according to its sustainable voting advice.

Besides the appointment of new directors and the adoption of last year’s financial statements, since 2007 the voting advice also encompasses the so-called ‘discharge of directors’. For this agenda point, the company asks its shareholders for approval of the policy implemented by the Board of Directors and the supervision implemented by the Supervisory Board. After approval, directors can no longer be held liable for the policy implemented, and hence are ‘discharged’.

In cases when there have been serious abuses on economic, environmental and/or social issues, VBDO often advises not to discharge the directors who are responsible for the policies that can be directly associated with these abuses. In other words, directors can be held liable for not adequately implementing the company’s corporate social responsibility (CSR) policies.

In preparation for the 2012 AGM’s, SOMO carried out research into CSR cases where international standards, guidelines and/or the company’s own code of conduct were breached in 2011. SOMO has compiled a profile for each of these companies, containing one relevant CSR-case.

The profiles will be published before the shareholders’ meetings, and can shortly be downloaded here. Voting advice can be found on the VBDO-website.

Company AGM Profile Voting advice
Ahold 17 April 2012 Read more Read more (in Dutch)
Heineken 19 April 2012 TBA
Read more (in Dutch)
14 May 2012 Read more TBA
22 May 2012 Read more Read more (in Dutch)