Oxfam can sometimes be more effective in trying to influence companies' policies and practices as a shareholder rather than an outsider. As a shareholder, Oxfam has the ability to file shareholder resolutions, attend annual shareholder meetings, and more easily engage executives of a company. Oxfam has established a fund for the purchase of shares in targeted companies. As a shareholder advocate, Oxfam makes the case that long-term business interests frequently align with what is good for sustainable development.
Shareholder advocacy can be a useful tool in campaigns and Oxfam has long worked with the socially responsible investment (SRI) community to put pressure on targeted companies. As a shareholder, Oxfam has additional flexibility and legitimacy to raise issues.
Oxfam filed its first shareholder resolution on December 10, 2009, with Chevron, requesting greater transparency around payments to governments in countries where the company operates. The resolution is part of the Right to Know, Right to Decide campaign strategy to promote access to information for communities in resource-rich countries.
Oxfam understands that holding shares in certain companies may raise concerns with supporters. It is important to note that the fund was established as an advocacy tool – it enhances (not detracts from) Oxfam's ability and willingness to advocate around harmful practices. Oxfam does not benefit financially from its holdings in targeted companies – any income generated by the fund (in the form of dividends or sale of shares) will stay within the fund to be re-invested in other selected companies.
To contact Oxfam America's Private Sector Department, please email firstname.lastname@example.org.