Proxy Voting for the Individual Shareholder
Every spring, during annual meeting season, it is important that you, as an individual shareholder, take the time to review and vote the proxy ballots you receive in the mail from the companies in which you hold stocks. This is because voting proxies helps ensure that your concerns, along with those of other socially responsible investors, are communicated to corporate management.
Proxy voting is easy and can usually be done using the following methods:
completing the proxy ballot you received and mailing it back before the due date,
voting by phone, by calling the number listed on the ballot, or
voting via the Internet using special Web sites, such as www.proxyvote.com.
It is important to mark your votes on the ballot, whether the instructions indicate this or not. Unmarked ballots count as votes for management's position.
If you never have received a proxy ballot despite owning stocks or mutual funds, it may be because your money manager or financial adviser receives them and votes on your behalf. It is possible that upon hiring your financial advisor, you signed paperwork that said you preferred not to receive these materials. If this is the case, be aware that many money managers and financial advisers have policies requiring them to vote along with company management and that management almost always votes against social and environmental proposals. You may, however, speak with your financial adviser to see if you can vote your own proxy ballots or provide instructions on how they should be voted on your behalf.
If you invest in mutual funds, you automatically delegate your voting rights to the fund's managers. You can find out how your mutual fund votes on proxy resolutions by calling the fund's investor relations department. This would be a good time to express your views on the position you would like the fund to take. As of August 31, 2004, disclosure of proxy voting records is required for all mutual funds.