by Chris Meyer, reprinted from the Everence Financial website

Earth Day occurred on April 22, 2021, as it has since its founding in 1970. Some credit Earth Day’s establishment as the beginning of the modern environmental movement. As a child, I  remember attending school assemblies commemorating Earth Day. Speakers stressed the key environmental themes of the era such as “reduce, reuse, and recycle.” There was an  emphasis on activities like picking up litter and planting trees, which we sometimes  participated in during school.  

My family also had our own environmental practices, such as recycling and planting  thousands of trees on my grandparents’ property, which was barren from strip mining done decades before. Our church had a Creation Care Sunday that coincided with Earth Day and highlighted larger-scale problems and emphasized our role as stewards of the natural world.  

These experiences contributed to my increasing understanding of the fragility of the Earth  and the enormity of our environmental challenges. My interest in finance and public policy  blossomed as I began to see systemic change as the best way to mitigate damage and  encourage a more sustainable trajectory.  

Positive developments in corporate environmental policy

I joined Praxis Mutual Funds® nearly 15 years ago, at a time when “make Earth Day every  day” had become the mantra. I’ve been privileged to work on environmental issues through shareholder advocacy, using the rights of stock ownership to promote corporate change.  The future of our planet is top of mind in my work, whether the subject is the climate crisis,  environmental justice, or toxic chemicals. However, moving from one seemingly intractable  problem to another can become exhausting.  

This Earth Day, I’m taking a step back to reflect on some of the achievements and positive  developments in corporate environmental policy since I began my career, through the lens  of shareholder advocacy. Here are a few examples of the progress I’ve witnessed:  

The environment matters to corporations

It’s hard to believe that a short time ago, it was an uphill battle to convince many  companies and investors that environmental, social, and governance factors were material  and worthy of consideration. Now, nearly all large-cap companies produce significant sustainability or corporate responsibility reports and routinely integrate ESG issues such as  climate change and human rights risks into their core business operations.  

Shareholder resolutions 

When I began at Praxis, the goal of filing a shareholder proposal on environmental or social  issues was to achieve a meeting with the company, or at least to get a mid-single-digit  percentage of the vote to satisfy resubmission thresholds for the following year. Not only do  proposals now generally receive a much larger share of the tally – and even an occasional  majority vote – they often spur companies to make substantial policy changes. And  proposals can make a difference even if they don’t end up on the ballot; about half of the  resolutions Praxis has filed in the past five years were withdrawn by the shareholders  because of negotiated agreements with the company.  

Emissions targets 

Climate consciousness has spiked in the past decade. Where it was once a struggle to get  corporate recognition of the existence of climate change, companies now are going far 

beyond acknowledging the climate crisis and setting ambitious targets for emissions  reductions, even in lieu of public policy mandates. For example, most of the electric utilities  Praxis has engaged have made net zero carbon emissions commitments by 2050 or earlier,  and all have set major emissions reduction targets. Shareholder dialogues are now largely  focused on the practical, incremental steps needed to achieve these climate goals as quickly  as possible. This is true progress.  

Productive dialogues 

Perhaps the most important development in corporate engagement has been the willingness  of companies to invest real time and effort in speaking with shareholders on environmental  and social issues. When I started in this field, we felt lucky to gain an audience with the  general counsel and head of investor relations, let alone anyone relevant to the issue at  hand. As companies have become more accustomed to speaking with shareholders – and  shareholder concerns have regularly proven to be prescient – they increasingly see dialogue and relationship-building as valuable and mutually beneficial. This bodes well for shareholders and stakeholders who seek sustainable corporate change. 

Despite the fundamental progress that companies have made, there’s no question that the  quest for sustainability has so far fallen short, as witnessed in publications such as the latest  Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reports. If the Earth becomes uninhabitable,  frankly, nothing else matters. At the same time, however, it’s fair (and healthy) to take  stock of what has been achieved in the recent past. For me, this progress offers a basis for hope on this Earth Day. Perhaps it can provide hope and encouragement for you too. 

About Praxis Mutual Funds 

Founded in 1994, Praxis Mutual Funds is a leading faith-based, socially responsible family of  mutual funds designed to help people and groups integrate their finances with their values.  Praxis is the mutual fund family of Everence Financial, a comprehensive faith-based financial  services organization helping individuals, organizations and congregations. To learn more,  visit and, or call 800-348-7468. 

Consider the fund’s investment objectives, risks, charges and expenses carefully before you invest. The  fund’s prospectus and summary prospectus contain this and other information. Call 800-977-2947 or  visit for a prospectus, which you should read carefully before you invest. Praxis  Mutual Funds are advised by Everence Capital Management and distributed through Foreside Financial  Services, LLC, member FINRA. Investment products offered are not FDIC insured, may lose value, and  have no bank guarantee. 


Chris Meyer, Manager of Stewardship Investing Advocacy and Research,  joined Praxis in 2006. He leads the company’s work in corporate engagement and supports its investment screening and proxy voting functions. He has led shareholder dialogues on many pertinent issues such as  climate change, toxic chemicals, child slave labor, and predatory credit card practices with multinational companies.