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2011 Proxy Season

The annual corporate electoral process – the proxy season for all shareholders of public corporations – is usually a period of intense communication with shareowners for public companies.  Many experts think that the proxy resolution campaigns waged by shareowners signal breakdown or failure of shareowner-corporate communications and [company-stakeholder] engagement.  When constructive engagement fails, shareholder campaigns often follow. 

There are perennial issues for proxy time, and each year some emerging issues.

The weapons in the arsenal of the activist shareowners, especially those with critical issues in focus include the filing of shareowner-sponsored resolutions; public communications and media campaigns; coalition-building with allied investors; invitation of support by third-party issue advocates, and more.

Societal issues of great interest to activist shareowners put a sharp focus on corporate policies, strategies, operations, practices, decision-making as these affect directly and indirectly issues and concerns.  These issues include policies and behavior in global supply chains, human rights, labor rights, diversity, treatment of indigenous peoples, forestry and land management, environmental management, preservation of natural resources, transparency on political contributions, frequency of say-on-pay disclosure, energy conservation, water use and water waste, majority voting, climate change risk, and more. These are the  dimensions of corporate activities very much in focus for shareowners and the asset managers they hire – and will be in the 2012 corporate proxy season.

There has been a steady linkage of unacceptable behaviors -- as seen by some shareowners and advocates --  with actions on executive compensation, bringing traditional corporate governance issues (such as compensation and Say-on-Pay policies) into intersections with civil and social issues of concern. 

The financial performance of the issuer is [of course] of paramount importance to asset owners and managers. Beyond the numbers, for a growing number of asset owners and managers, the corporate policies, practices, behaviors and Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) on ESG issues (environmental, social and governance) is now also important. For increasing numbers of investors, these are primary determinants in share price valuation, and their investment decision-making.  The ESG issues are important factors at proxy time. .

Accountability Central editors present the news, commentary and research (publicly-issued) surrounding contests in the proxy arena here for your information.  We’ve archived the 2008, 2009 2010, and 2011 proxy seasons content for your retrieval.  All years are searchable in A-C.  We invite your comments in the A-C – share your views with others interested in the corporate proxy season and the issues in the headlines.

The Editors

Latest on Proxy Season 11

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