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2020 Outlook: ESG Engagement

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By John WilsonDirector of Corporate Engagement

Washington - We're focused on a number of different public policy issues in 2020.

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Shareholder rights

The first has to do with shareholder rights: We believe that it's important for us, as shareholders, to have the ability to engage directly in conversations with companies to make sure they are acting in our interests.

The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), which oversees that process, is now considering rules that would hamper our ability to file those shareholder proposals. So we are communicating with the SEC to try to help them understand our perspective — why it's important for us to continue to be able to file these proposals.

Climate change

Another key issue that we're engaged with right now is climate change. For change at the scale that we see as necessary, we need to have a climate policy that encourages even greater mitigation of carbon emissions. And so we've been communicating directly with government policymakers to express this view. It's really an investment issue that policymakers should be concerned about, so we believe they should be willing to encourage much stronger climate policies.

Diversity and inclusion

Diversity is another issue that we're very concerned about. We want to make sure that companies are recruiting the best talent pool possible. If you are only recruiting people who look a certain way, then you're missing out on a lot of talent. And so diversity is really important to us — not only to make sure that people are getting an opportunity, but also to assess whether companies are getting the best talent possible.

Data and data privacy

Another key issue we're looking at in 2020 is data and data privacy. Everybody knows that companies are collecting more and more of our data. But what are the consequences of all this information being collected about us? And how might we engage companies in dialogue to make sure that the way they use our data is actually serving consumers and employees?

Bottom line: With public policy issues in 2020 ranging from shareholder rights to data privacy, we focus on engagement to make sure companies are acting in our interests as investors — not just for their own benefit in ways that might harm people and society.

The views expressed in these posts are those of the authors and are current only through the date stated. These views are subject to change at any time based upon market or other conditions, and Eaton Vance disclaims any responsibility to update such views. These views may not be relied upon as investment advice and, because investment decisions for Eaton Vance are based on many factors, may not be relied upon as an indication of trading intent on behalf of any Eaton Vance strategy. The discussion herein is general in nature and is provided for informational purposes only. There is no guarantee as to its accuracy or completeness.