The idea behind “shareholder activism” is that the sharehodlers of a company excercise their influence to effect policy changes at the corporate level that reflect environmenatal, social or any other issue. It’s really a very neat way of going about it because, as owners of the company, shareholders have every right to have their voice heard, and arguably have a more effective voice than those outside the company.
This is an interesting article in E magazine that outlines some of the basics. In particular the article talks about Green Century funds who have persuaded companies such as Whole Foods and Apple Computer to take more proactive steps toward environmental transparency and better recycling policies. And why not? In the long term sense that sort of policy is bound to benefit the shareholders and general public alike by providing for a better environment – if not also producing better returns financially.