In this article, representatives of The Conference Board and Rutgers Law School discuss the current phenomenon of director engagement with shareholders. While company managements have long engaged with shareholders at annual meetings and investor presentations, the notion of director engagement with shareholders is a more recent development. Why is shareholder engagement increasingly being added to the job description of the corporate director? The article posits several theories for the trend and, based on a survey of corporate secretaries, general counsel and investor relations officers at public companies, identifies the most common engagement topics, provides data on frequency of engagement and highlights emerging practices related to director engagement.
Framework developed by the Investor Stewardship Group establishes common set of investor expectations for corporate governance
The Investor Stewardship Group—a group of the largest, most prominent institutional investors and global asset managers investing, in the aggregate, over $20 trillion in the U.S. equity markets—has developed the Framework for U.S. Stewardship and Governance, a “framework of basic standards of investment stewardship and corporate governance for U.S. institutional investor and boardroom conduct.” The stewardship framework identifies fundamental responsibilities for institutional investors, and the corporate governance framework identifies six fundamental principles that “are designed to establish a foundational set of investor expectations about corporate governance practices in U.S. public companies. Generally, the principles “reflect the common corporate governance beliefs embedded in each member’s proxy voting and engagement guidelines,” although each ISG member may differ somewhat on specifics. The ISG encourages company directors to apply these basic principles—while acknowledging that they are not designed to be “prescriptive or comprehensive” and can be applied in various ways—and indicates that it will “evaluate companies’ alignment with these principles, as well as any discussion of alternative approaches that directors maintain are in a company’s best interests.” The framework does not go “into effect” until January 1, 2018, so that companies will have “time to adjust to these standards in advance of the 2018 proxy season,” the implication being that failure to “comply or explain” by that point could ultimately lead to shareholder opposition during proxy season. Check out the countdown clock at the link above!
by Cydney Posner In this paper from the Rock Center for Corporate Governance at Stanford University, Board Evaluations and Boardroom Dynamics, the authors suggest that board self-evaluations aren’t all they’re cracked up to be. While, based on a recent study, 89% of directors believe their boards have the skills and […]
by Cydney Posner Asset management firm BlackRock (reportedly the largest, with $5.1 trillion under management) has identified its “Investment Stewardship” priorities for 2017-2018, intended to help companies prepare for engaging with BlackRock. Among the hot topics are governance (including board composition and diversity), corporate strategy for long-term value creation in […]