Every year beginning roughly in March, American corporations begin sending out proxy statements to their shareholders. If you own stocks, you’ve received one or more in your inbox, or in the mail. Proxy statements include information that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires corporations provide to their shareholders, such as corporate governance and financing information, like nominations for the board of directors, proposed incentive structures, or capitalization plans. In addition, the proxy statement lists all the resolutions scheduled for a vote at the current year’s shareholder meeting, both those proposed by management, and those proposed by shareholders, including ICCR’s members. Also inside this package is the proxy ballot, which allows shareholders unable to attend a company’s annual shareholder meeting to have a say on the governance matters up for a vote.
Many shareholders will gloss over and discard these sometimes dauntingly long documents, pausing only to note a company’s stock performance. But discarding the opportunity to vote forfeits the chance to influence important decisions impacting corporate responsibility. When that happens, shareholders surrender their voices to the company’s board of directors.
While the vast majority of ICCR member work in corporate responsibility takes place in face-to-face corporate dialogues, there are occasions when ICCR members use the proxy resolution process to bring important issues to the attention of fellow investors and company leadership. Every year members of ICCR file roughly 200 resolutions requesting changes is corporate poicy that support more transparency, better risk management and improved ESG performance. Check the companies you own in your portfolio and review the relevant ICCR-sponsored resolutions to see if you may want to vote your proxies in favor of these proposals.
When you do, don't forget to tell us by tweeting us @ICCRonline and using the #VoteYourProxies hashtag.