The annual meeting of shareholders is a hallmark of corporate accountability: the one time in the year when CEOs and the board are obligated to present themselves to their shareholders and submit to their questions. For decades, ICCR members have used the Q&A session at annual general meetings (AGMs) to engage both the CEO and board on myriad ESG concerns, often resulting in on-the-spot commitments by the company.
Given the COVID-19 pandemic, most companies have been forced to abandon in-person 2020 annual shareholder meetings and have moved to a virtual format. We acknowledge that changes to normal business operations and meetings are necessary to respond to the pandemic. However, the ability to ask questions during the Q&A segment is a fundamental shareholder right that must be protected. The economic devastation and resulting exacerbation of environmental and social issues brought on by the pandemic only serve to highlight the importance of authentic interaction with investors and other stakeholders as companies work to "right the ship".
As the 2020 proxy season unfolds we are already hearing that the virtual format for AGMs is hampering investors’ ability to ask questions and, in some cases, even present their resolutions. To ensure that investors' questions for CEOs and the board are documented and on-the-record, we are helping them memorialize their questions via one-minute videos and promoting them on social channels under the #AskTheCEO hashtag. The questions themselves are being sent to the companies in advance of the AGM and the videos will help shareholders track whether the companies censored the questions from the Q&A, and if they did respond, how substantive their responses were.
We will be collecting these videos here and sharing them publicly, including with members of the press. The videos will be listed in chronological order by AGM date.
06.04.20 Netflix: Onscreen depictions of smoking, Maryknoll Sisters, Cathy Rowan
05.27.20 Amazon: Climate change, Green Century Capital Management, Andrea Ranger
05.27.20 Wendy's: Farmworker rights, T'Ruah, Rabbi Rachel Kahn-Troster
05.27.20 Exxon Mobil: Scope 1-3 GHG emissions, As You Sow, Andrew Behar
05.19.20 Amgen: Price restraint, Dana Investment Advisors, Ann Roberts
05.15.29 Macy's Garment workers, Friends Fiduciary Corp., Kate Monahan
05.14.20 CoreCivic: Human rights policy implementation, Jesuits of the US Central and Southern Province, Mary Baudouin
05.14.20 Altria: Tobacco, Catholic Health Initiatives, Laura Krausa
05.13.29 Kohls: Garment worker safety, Province of St. Joseph of the Capuchin Order, Brother Robert Wotypka
05.13.20 Sturm Ruger: Worker Safety, Trinity Health, Tonya Wells
05.13.20 Sturm Ruger: Gun Safety, Catholic Health Initiatives, Laura Krausa
05.08.20: Abbvie: Price restraint, Friends Fiduciary, Kate Monahan
05.06.20: Gilead: Price restraint, United Church Funds, Katie McCloskey
05.05.20: Bristol-Myers Squibb: Price restraint, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, Tom McCaney
05.04.20: Eli Lilly: Price restraint, School Sisters of Notre Dame, Central Province, Tim Dewane
05.04.20: Eli Lilly: Lilly's insulin program, Sisters of St. Francis of Dubuque, Christopher Cox
04.23.20: Johnson & Johnson: Patent sharing for a COVID-19 vaccine. Oxfam America, Nico Lusiani