Even a cursory review of the history of American environmental, social, and corporate governance (ESG) shareholder activism reveals the presence of women leaders. This Article sketches some of this history and interrogates the role of women in the shareholder activism movement. That movement typically has involved claims by minority shareholders to corporate power; activists are nearly always on the margins of power, though minority shareholders may, collectively, represent a majority interest. This Article ascribes women’s leadership in shareholder activism to their longstanding position as outsiders to corporate organization. Women’s participation in shaping corporate policy—even from the margins—has provided women with unique opportunities for leadership and challenged stereotypes about the role of women in public life, while also challenging and reforming business practices and policies.
Much of this Article sketches the history of American women in shareholder activism, beginning in the 1890s with Ellen M. Henrotin, perhaps the first person to recognize the potential for collective action among women shareholders. This Article describes the ESG activism of Louise de Koven Bown, another Chicago socialite, and explores the rise of women activists after World War II, led by Wilma Soss, who pursued a mix of social and governance reforms and even achieved some fame in popular culture. Unlike their male counterparts, such as Lewis Gilbert, women activists were savaged by the press. This Article describes the role of women shareholder activists after the emergence of institutional investing, from the Sisters of the Precious Blood, a group of nuns who waged a shareholder activism campaign against the manufacturers of infant formula, to the Corporate Social Responsibility movement of the 1960s and 1970s and the leadership of such women as Alice Tepper Marlin, Joan Bavaria, Amy Domini, and Nell Minow. Finally, this Article describes the experience of a twenty-first century asset manager who ran into sexism in the shareholder-manager dynamic and exposed it in the Financial Times in 2018. This Article concludes by summing up some key insights from this history.
Sarah C. Haan, Women in Shareholder Activism, 46 SEATTLE U. L. REV. 469 (2023).
Accounting Law Commons, Administrative Law Commons, Admiralty Commons, Agency Commons, Agriculture Law Commons, Air and Space Law Commons, Animal Law Commons, Antitrust and Trade Regulation Commons, Banking and Finance Law Commons, Bankruptcy Law Commons, Business Organizations Law Commons, Civil Law Commons, Civil Procedure Commons, Civil Rights and Discrimination Commons, Commercial Law Commons, Common Law Commons, Communications Law Commons, Comparative and Foreign Law Commons, Computer Law Commons, Conflict of Laws Commons, Constitutional Law Commons, Construction Law Commons, Consumer Protection Law Commons, Contracts Commons, Courts Commons, Criminal Law Commons, Criminal Procedure Commons, Cultural Heritage Law Commons, Disability Law Commons, Disaster Law Commons, Dispute Resolution and Arbitration Commons, Education Law Commons, Elder Law Commons, Election Law Commons, Energy and Utilities Law Commons, Entertainment, Arts, and Sports Law Commons, Environmental Law Commons, Estates and Trusts Commons, European Law Commons, Evidence Commons, Family Law Commons, First Amendment Commons, Food and Drug Law Commons, Fourteenth Amendment Commons, Fourth Amendment Commons, Gaming Law Commons, Government Contracts Commons, Health Law and Policy Commons, Housing Law Commons, Human Rights Law Commons, Immigration Law Commons, Indigenous, Indian, and Aboriginal Law Commons, Insurance Law Commons, Intellectual Property Law Commons, International Humanitarian Law Commons, International Law Commons, International Trade Law Commons, Internet Law Commons, Judges Commons, Jurisdiction Commons, Jurisprudence Commons, Juvenile Law Commons, Labor and Employment Law Commons, Land Use Law Commons, Law and Economics Commons, Law and Gender Commons, Law and Philosophy Commons, Law and Politics Commons, Law and Psychology Commons, Law and Race Commons, Law and Society Commons, Law Enforcement and Corrections Commons, Law of the Sea Commons, Legal Biography Commons, Legal Education Commons, Legal Ethics and Professional Responsibility Commons, Legal History Commons, Legal Profession Commons, Legal Remedies Commons, Legal Writing and Research Commons, Legislation Commons, Litigation Commons, Marketing Law Commons, Medical Jurisprudence Commons, Military, War, and Peace Commons, National Security Law Commons, Natural Law Commons, Natural Resources Law Commons, Nonprofit Organizations Law Commons, Oil, Gas, and Mineral Law Commons, Organizations Law Commons, Other Law Commons, President/Executive Department Commons, Privacy Law Commons, Property Law and Real Estate Commons, Public Law and Legal Theory Commons, Religion Law Commons, Retirement Security Law Commons, Rule of Law Commons, Science and Technology Law Commons, Second Amendment Commons, Secured Transactions Commons, Securities Law Commons, Sexuality and the Law Commons, Social Welfare Law Commons, State and Local Government Law Commons, Supreme Court of the United States Commons, Taxation-Federal Commons, Taxation-Federal Estate and Gift Commons, Taxation-State and Local Commons, Taxation-Transnational Commons, Tax Law Commons, Torts Commons, Transnational Law Commons, Transportation Law Commons, Water Law Commons, Workers' Compensation Law Commons