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Activist stewardship


CalSTRS activist stewardship: Targeted and heightened engagement at a company where traditional engagement has failed to produce meaningful results.

Engagement process

CalSTRS evaluates engagement opportunities based on our priorities of corporate and market accountability, board effectiveness, the low-carbon transition, and responsible use of firearms. Before we engage, we also weigh the cost of staff time and resources against our ability to effect change. We use our influence to engage through proxy voting, authoring letters, attending meetings and conferences, and collaborating with other investors. If these measures are ineffective, CalSTRS may move to activist stewardship to increase shareholder value for the fund and our members.

Arrow representing a continuum, going from black to red.

Frequently asked questions

CalSTRS is typically a passive investor. Why take on this level of involvement with companies? 

As a significant global investor, CalSTRS has a responsibility to create long-term value and a secure retirement for nearly 975,000 public educators. CalSTRS has a proven track record of successfully using proxy voting and engagement to mitigate risk and enhance the long-term value of the companies in which we invest. Activist stewardship initiatives are limited to situations where significant change needs to occur to preserve value and traditional engagement methods haven’t worked.

Why is CalSTRS, a government entity, involved in private industry board operations? 

CalSTRS is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. As a passive investor but an active shareholder, CalSTRS has a responsibility to mitigate risk and promote investor confidence. It is our duty as fiduciaries to actively monitor and engage companies in our portfolio on financial, strategic, governance, sustainability and other risks.

If traditional engagement hasn’t worked, why not just divest? 

Divestment is a last resort action that can have a lasting negative impact on the health of the Teachers' Retirement Fund, while severely limiting our ability to shape corporate behavior for long-term, sustainable growth. We choose activist stewardship initiatives if we think they will be effective and create value for the fund.

Will CalSTRS divest if activist stewardship fails? 

CalSTRS firmly believes that active and direct engagement is the best way to resolve issues. No further action will be taken until all engagement efforts have been fully exhausted.