We regularly disclose our stewardship activities and provide our perspectives on governance topics so that our investors, portfolio companies, policymakers, and other interested stakeholders understand our principles and approach.
Our investment stewardship policies demonstrate our focus on safeguarding and promoting long-term financial value on behalf of our funds and fund investors. We regularly review our policies and guidelines to consider further developments in governance standards and risks to long-term shareholder value.
Vanguard’s mission is to give investors the best chance for investment success. We believe responsible investment is consistent with our fiduciary duty to manage investments in the best interest of clients.
Our approach to responsible investment is outlined below.
Index funds have revolutionized investing by providing millions of investors with broad market exposure at a very low cost. They predominantly track benchmarks constructed without consideration of ESG criteria. Because ESG risks can undermine returns over the long run and our index funds are essentially permanent owners of the companies in which they invest, Vanguard’s Investment Stewardship team votes proxies, engages with company directors and executives, and advocates for market-wide adoption of governance best practices to address these material risks. Although we want companies to mitigate material risks, we do not dictate strategy.
ESG risk is one element of Vanguard Fixed Income Group’s bottom-up financial analysis for potential investments. The team quantifies the financial materiality of ESG risk and assesses whether a security’s current valuation properly reflects that risk.
The majority of Vanguard’s active equity funds are managed by external firms. This approach provides us with diversity of thought and broader access to top talent. Each firm has its own philosophy and process, and many consider ESG factors when selecting securities.
Vanguard’s Oversight and Manager Search team is responsible for monitoring the external managers’ performance. As part of that oversight, the team reviews the external managers’ sustainability and ESG risk practices. By allowing the advisors to vote their own proxies, Vanguard enables our advisors to integrate their own analysis and direct engagement with portfolio companies into their investment strategies.
Some investors simply don’t want exposure to ESG risks or want to avoid companies that don’t align with their values. Vanguard currently offers more than a dozen exclusionary (or negatively screened) equity and fixed income ESG products across the globe. These products use transparent exclusion measures to remove certain companies from their investment universe based on predetermined ESG screening criteria.
Our four corporate governance principles serve as the foundation of our program, animating the funds’ proxy voting and our engagement activities. These principles are embedded in the funds’ voting practices, including within the regional and market-specific voting policies that the Vanguard-advised funds have adopted. To learn more about how we apply these principles, view our regional proxy voting policies below.
All investing is subject to risk, including the possible loss of the money you invest.
Investments in bonds are subject to interest rate, credit, and inflation risk.
ESG funds are subject to ESG investment risk, which is the chance that the stocks or bonds screened by the index provider or advisor, as applicable, for ESG criteria generally will underperform the market as a whole or, in the aggregate, will trail returns of other funds screened for ESG criteria. The index provider or advisor’s assessment of a company, based on the company’s level of involvement in a particular industry or their own ESG criteria, may differ from that of other funds or an investor’s assessment of such company. As a result, the companies deemed eligible by the index provider or advisor may not reflect the beliefs and values of any particular investor and may not exhibit positive or favorable ESG characteristics. The evaluation of companies for ESG screening or integration is dependent on the timely and accurate reporting of ESG data by the companies. Successful application of the screens will depend on the index provider or advisor's proper identification and analysis of ESG data. The advisor may not be successful in assessing and identifying companies that have or will have a positive impact or support a given position. In some circumstances, companies could ultimately have a negative or no impact or support of a given position.