Mutual funds that utilize a "socially responsible investing" style are more likely to side with shareholders than conventional funds when it comes to corporate governance, according to a new study.

   The study found that SRI funds were twice as likely than their mainstream counterparts to support shareholder-proposed corporate governance resolutions and "vote no" campaigns.

   It also found that SRI funds were more likely to support controversial governance resolutions, such as separating the chief executive and chair positions or limiting non-audit services by auditors.

   Sponsored by the Social Investment Forum Foundation, a nonprofit organization that does research and education on SRI investing, the study comes after the SEC last year started requiring mutual funds and investment advisors to disclose how they vote on proxy issues.

   "At a minimum, the Securities and Exchange Commission has said mutual funds must monitor corporate events," says Peter Kinder, president of KLD Research & Analytics, which conducted the study. "Those events include social and environmental issues. By requiring the funds to report their policies and votes, the commission has given the fund's beneficiaries the means to judge whether the funds are meeting their duties to them. The funds will have to take these issues very seriously."

   Among the results of the study was that SRI funds supported social and environmental shareholder resolutions about 84.6% of the time, compared to 15.1% for mainstream funds.

   One exception, according to the study, was the Charles Schwab fund family, which supported such resolutions about 56.3% of the time. PIMCO and Vanguard also were frequent proponents of shareholder resolutions related to social and environmental issues, the study said.