New research from responsible investment NGO ShareAction has indicated that the world’s largest asset managers, including BlackRock and Vanguard, are impeding progress on environmental and social issues.

The fourth edition of ShareAction’s “voting matters” report series, released January 17 and featuring Insightia data, showed that the world’s four largest asset managers, BlackRock, Vanguard, Fidelity Investments, and State Street Global Advisors, “voted for significantly fewer climate and social resolutions than they did in 2021.”

The report also noted that members of Net Zero Asset Managers Initiative (NZAMi) and Climate Action 100+ (CA100+) on average failed to back one third of the climate resolutions ShareAction sampled.

By using their voting power to support social and environmental issues, the aforementioned asset managers could have secured paid sick leave for all TJX employees, secured disclosure from Amazon on how the company is protecting employees’ freedom of association, and could have secured Paris-aligned emissions reductions targets from Chevron, ConocoPhillips, and Valero.

“Asset managers must strengthen their voting policies, ideally through a commitment to ‘comply or explain’, meaning default support for resolutions with positive environmental and social impacts, and issuing a public explanation when votes are not cast in favor,” said Claudia Gray, ShareAction’s head of financial sector research.

Gray also advocated to policymakers to “step up” legislation to enhance proxy voting transparency and bolster accountability for asset managers whose voting record is at odds with their sustainability claims.