Month: January 2018

Impact of government shutdown on SEC operations

The SEC has finally posted a notice about its operating status in the event of a government shutdown.  If there is a shutdown “after January 19, the SEC will remain open for a limited number of days, fully staffed and focused on the agency’s mission.

Get used to it— “lap dog” may now be a favored adjective in shareholder proposals

From here on out, I guess you can count on seeing your directors described as “lap dogs” in some shareholder proposals or, more accurately, nascent or possible lap dogs. (That helps, doesn’t it?)  That’s because, in three separate shareholder proposals submitted to The Boeing Company by three beneficial owners (all working through John Chevedden), the SEC refused to allow the company to exclude portions of the supporting statements that suggested that some of the company’s directors might be “lap dogs.”

When theories collide: what happens when the shareholder preeminence theory meets the stakeholder theory?

Laurence Fink, the Chair and CEO of BlackRock, has issued his annual letter to public companies, entitled A Sense of Purpose.  As in prior years, Fink advocates enhanced shareholder engagement and a focus on long-term strategy development. (See this PubCo post and this PubCo post.) What’s new this year is that he is also advocating that companies recognize their responsibilities to stakeholders beyond just shareholders—to employees, customers and communities.  Holy smokes, Milton Friedman, what happened to maximizing shareholder value as the only valid responsibility of corporations?  

Does inclusion of executive compensation metrics related to corporate social responsibility lead to long-term value creation?

In this recent academic study, Social Responsibility Criteria in Executive Compensation: Effectiveness and Implications for Firm Outcomes, the authors examined the impact of the integration of elements of corporate social responsibility, such as environmental and social performance, into executive compensation performance criteria.  In the decision-making process, executives tend to gravitate toward the achievement of short-term goals and to respond more readily to more prominent direct stakeholders, such as customers and shareholders. But CSR metrics typically have a long-term pay-off and involve less direct stakeholders, such as the environment and the local community.  The question is: is the inclusion of CSR performance metrics in executive comp programs effective to motivate executives to achieve those longer-term CSR goals, engage with CSR stakeholders and enhance long-term value creation?

Are graphics really good?

Is it just me?  Am I the only one that finds having to decipher a load of graphics in a proxy statement to be somewhat daunting on occasion? Inclusion of graphics in lieu of copious text has been almost de rigueur in proxy statements for several seasons now as a way to facilitate comprehension of sometimes complex data. And most often, those graphics are relatively effective for that purpose.  As we head into the 2018 proxy season, however, this piece in CFO.com suggests that some forms of visual presentation may be, well, a lot more useful than others.