BlackRock and State Street supported most environmental and social resolutions at large U.S. companies, while Vanguard Group supported far fewer, according to an analysis released Wednesday by Morningstar.
The analysis looked at 100 key ESG shareholder resolutions filed at U.S. large-cap companies and voted on during the two years ended March 31 supported by 40% to 85% of independent shareholders.
Vanguard supported just 28% of the proposals, while BlackRock and State Street supported 55%, and 60%, respectively, Morningstar found.
"Attention on proxy-voting decisions has never been higher," the analysis said, and support from the three biggest asset managers "also clearly indicate the issues the firms are prepared to make a stand on regarding environmental and social themes."
The three asset managers represent 43% of the U.S. funds market, with $10.3 trillion in assets under management as of April 30, with $8.9 trillion of that held in passive funds.
While the managers' votes followed their respective proxy-voting policies, Morningstar noted that all three managers are now implementing "pass-through voting" that will allow fund investors to choose how they want fund managers to cast votes.
Still, "millions of fund investors will continue to rely on their fund manager to make proxy-voting decisions on their behalf," and investor interest in how manager ESG priorities align will continue growing, the analysis said.
Of the 100 resolutions studied, 77 addressed social issues such as political influence and activity, workplace equity, human rights and ethical use of technology, and civil rights and racial equity. The remaining 23 proposals targeted environmental themes, with 17 focusing on climate change and others on deforestation, water risk and the use of plastics.
BlackRock showed more than 70% support for resolutions on civil rights and racial equity, while State Street supported more than 90% of resolutions addressing human rights and ethical use of technology. Vanguard voted against key resolutions on civil rights and racial equity, and non-climate environment-related issues.
BlackRock published voting rationales for 97 of its 100 voting decisions, compared with only 45 and 28 for Vanguard and State Street, respectively.