How Exxon Taught Me That Shareholders Can Change the World

Feb 28, 2019 8:15 AM ET

How Exxon Taught Me That Shareholders Can Change the World

by Gabe Rissman Co-Founder and President, 

I rose to the podium, looked Exxon then-CEO Rex Tillerson in the eye, and spoke. “Why does Exxon fund climate-denying organizations, when you publicly support a carbon tax?” Tillerson deflected the question at the time: “we would never impinge on ALEC’s free speech.” D’oh. Two years later, in July 2018, Exxon ceased funding ALEC, the climate change denying organization I highlighted.

Who was I? Just a college student with a tiny amount of stock, who took it upon myself to write a shareholder resolution. Socially responsible investors like Zevin Asset Management and Walden Asset Management, helped me get on that podium at Exxon’s annual meeting. “Holy cow, more people can be doing this!”, I said to myself. So I co-founded Stake, because I saw that David could beat Goliath.

What's Your Stake? Stake organizes shareowners around petitions. At you can sync with your investment account and use your shares to Ask a company or mutual fund to improve. With a few clicks, you can support Asks like this one for Vanguard to support corporate political spending disclosure (see the link inthe full article)

Stake has a not-so-secret sauce. We pair popular Asks with Champions – sustainable investment fund managers that negotiate with the company management on behalf of all the individual shareowner supporters. Again and again, Champions lead the charge in getting companies to protect all workers from discrimination, remove firearms from grocery store shelves, and limit financing of coal power plants. My Champions, like Walden AM and Zevin AM, can now be yours through Stake. Now, Stake can be your podium. 

Read Gabe's full article here