In what some are calling the vote heard around the world, a small activist investor successfully voted out three of Exxon Mobil’s 12 board directors for failing to push the company hard enough on climate transition issues. The vote sent shock waves across corporate America because the activist, a small hedge fund called Engine No. 1, owned less than 0.02% of Exxon’s shares, but managed to sway three of the company’s largest institutional shareholders – accounting for 20% of the voting shares – to vote with it. Those three shareholders – Blackrock, Vanguard and State Street – also happen to cast an average of 25% of proxy votes for directors of all the companies in the S&P 500. The possibility that those votes, which typically have sided with management, will be used against companies to effect change is an important reckoning for corporate directors everywhere. This is the first time a director has lost a board seat as a result of investors’ climate concerns. It is also an important signal from asset management companies that their marketing and PR campaigns in support of social and environmental issues will be met with true shareholder action.