More than a dozen current and former employees of the tech giant Amazon submitted identical shareholder proposals requesting the company to reduce its dependence on fossil fuels. The proposal, submitted in november of 2018, will be voted on in Spring 2019 and asks the company’s board “how it would respond to climate change and reduce its dependence on fossil fuels.” To be eligible to admit such a proposal, shareholders must own at least $2,000 in stock for a minimum of one year.
Amazon is the world’s third most valuable company and therefore carries with it incredible influence. It employs more than 600,000 workers. Accordingly, to effect company-wide change at Amazon requires enormous resources and is subject to trustee and beneficiary buy-in. Employees being paid with stocks, then using those stocks to drive change from within and outside the company, could be a good method for effecting change faster. Will companies discourage or encourage this behavior and what could it mean for talent acquisition and retainment if they don’t? Will we see this type of employee shareholder activism gain popularity? And, alongside working with regulators and consumers, could employee activism be an effective tool for public companies to fuel sustainable development?