Tag: shareholder engagement

Human capital management moves to the forefront as an investor concern

For 2018, BlackRock has identified human capital management as one of its engagement priorities, echoing the exhortation from BlackRock CEO Laurence Fink in his 2018 annual letter to public companies: with governments seeming to fall short, it is up to the private sector to “respond to broader societal challenges”; companies must look to benefit their broader communities and all of their stakeholders, including employees, and that involves investment in efforts to create a diverse workforce, to develop retraining programs for employees in an increasingly automated world and to help prepare workers for retirement. (See this PubCo post.)  With that mission in mind, in this post on The Harvard Law School Forum on Corporate Governance and Financial Regulation, Michelle Edkins, Managing Director and Global Head of Investment Stewardship at BlackRock, discusses Blackrock’s approach to engagement with companies on the topic of HCM. While, as an investor concern, HCM may not have the high profile  of board diversity, climate change or executive comp, it may well be on its way.

BlackRock issues proxy voting guidelines for 2018 proxy season

As discussed in this PubCo post, BlackRock has recently issued its 2018 Proxy Voting Guidelines for U.S. Securities.  Because BlackRock is reportedly the largest asset management firm (with $6.3 trillion under management), its voting guidelines will matter to more than a few companies.  And BlackRock takes its proxy voting seriously. With the growth in index investing, CEO Laurence Fink has argued, asset managers’ responsibilities of engagement and advocacy have increased, given that asset managers cannot simply sell the shares of companies about which they have doubts if those companies are included in index funds.

SEC-NYU Dialogue on Securities Markets focuses on shareholder engagement

While the topic of last week’s fourth SEC-NYU Dialogue on Securities Markets was shareholder engagement—focusing on the roles of institutional and activist investors—  the real hot topic was the recent letter to CEOs from BlackRock’s Laurence Fink, which was at least mentioned on every panel. (See this PubCo post.)

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?  

Highlights of the 2017 PLI Securities Regulation Institute

Summarized below are some of the highlights of the 2017 PLI Securities Regulation Institute panel discussions with the SEC staff (Michele Anderson, Wesley Bricker, Karen Garnett, William Hinman, Mark Kronforst, Shelley Parratt, Ted Yu), as well as a number of  former staffers and other commentators. Topics included the Congressional and SEC agendas, fresh insights into the shareholder proposal guidance, as well as expectations regarding cybersecurity, conflict minerals, pay ratio disclosure, waivers and many other topics.

PwC’s 2017 Annual Corporate Directors Survey shows directors “clearly out of step” with institutional investors on social issues

In its Annual Corporate Directors Survey for 2017, PwC surveyed 886 directors of public companies and concluded that there is a “real divide” between directors and  institutional investors (which own 70% of U.S. public company stocks) on several issues. More recently, PwC observes, public companies have been placed in the unusual position of being called upon to tackle some of society’s ills: in light of the “new administration in Washington and growing social divisiveness, US public company directors are faced with great expectations from investors and the public. Perhaps now more than ever, public companies are being asked to take the lead in addressing some of society’s most difficult problems. From seeking action on climate change to advancing diversity, stakeholder expectations are increasing and many companies are responding.” But apparently, many boards are not taking up that challenge; PwC’s “research shows that directors are clearly out of step with investor priorities in some critical areas,” such as environmental issues, board gender diversity and social issues, such as income inequality and employee retirement security.

PwC survey of directors showed skepticism on the benefits of shareholder engagement, critical views of some board colleagues and gender splits on board diversity

by Cydney Posner In its annual survey released Tuesday of more than 800 corporate directors, PwC identified ten key findings, including critical views on other board members, split views on board diversity and skeptical views on the benefits of shareholder engagement. Of the directors surveyed, in 2016, 35% thought that at least […]

Corp Fin staff issues new CDI on when shareholder efforts to influence management affect eligibility to use Schedule 13G

by Cydney Posner The Corp Fin staff continues to dribble out new CDIs, with the newest relating to circumstances when, under Rule 13d-1, shareholder efforts to influence management will affect the shareholder’s eligibility to use Schedule 13G. Rule 13d-1 provides, in part, that Schedule 13G may be filed in lieu of Schedule 13D […]

SEC Chair White discusses potential SEC coming attractions: sustainability reporting

by Cydney Posner In a speech last week to the International Corporate Governance Network Annual Conference, the last agenda item discussed by SEC Chair Mary Jo White was the current state of  sustainability reporting.  The bottom line: the “issue has our attention.”