Company Engagement Case Study

Acuity Brands

Issue: Improving ESG disclosure

Acuity Brands is a mid-sized US business that manufactures and distributes lighting fixtures and systems. The company has been a leader in the development and deployment of high efficiency LED lighting systems. However, Acuity has not produced any substantive disclosures on their own ESG policies and performance.

Objective

The specific objective of the engagement was to secure a commitment from the company to produce policy and performance information covering key ESG issues at the company.

Scope and process

Working with a small group of US-based investors, we engaged the company in a dialogue about the need and value of ESG reporting for investors and for the effective management of these issues at the company. We had several exchanges through correspondence and follow-up conference calls mainly with the company’s Treasurer.

Outcome: Partially successful

Having initially indicated that the company would produce a sustainability report in 2017, the company was then unresponsive to follow-up questions. As a result, WHEB co-filed a shareholder resolution at the company’s AGM in January 2018. The outcome of the vote was that 49.8% of shares cast were supportive of the resolution. The company has indicated that it will publish ‘a policy on sustainability which… will describe and formalize the Company’s ESG policies, including key performance indicators related to ESG matters that are material to the business.’ We will continue to engage with the company until we are satisfied with their progress on ESG disclosure.