proxy vote

New Proxy Guidelines Suggested for Massachusetts

Hurray for Massachusetts' State Treasurer, Steven Grossman, who put some muscle in the campaign to increase the number of women on corporate boards. He announced this week that his office will unveil new proxy guidelines on how Massachusetts invests its pension funds. The new guidelines consider governance, executive compensation, environmentally friendly policies, and the presence of women in the boardroom and executive suites. If the Pension Reserves Investment Management committee supports the changes, it will go to the full PRIM board for a vote on April 5.

Grossman follows the lead of Connecticut State Treasurer, Denise Nappier, a nationally recognized leader who has urged corporations to adopt policies that ensure that women and minority candidates are routinely sought as part of every board search.

Grossman said, "Massachusetts will hopefully play a more active role in using those principles in our practices, to make it clear to corporate America that its not acceptable to have such a low representation of women in the board room and in the executive suite."

Institutional investors hold a lot of influence when it comes to corporate decision-making. When institutional investors take on a cause, companies listen. Why? Because, according to Johan Sulgeman, professor of finance at SMU Cox, "when firms go against institutional investor preferences, stock prices take a hit."

We hope that Grossman and Nappier will lead the charge so that other state pension funds will adopt similar proxy guidelines, and that board diversity and the 20/20 model become a national call to action.

It's proxy time.

With the 2011 season upon us we're noting lots of articles about increased shareholder activism. The recent SEC ruling allowing shareholders to vote on executive compensation (say on pay) may open doors for shareholders to weigh in on other kinds of proposals, like board diversity.

Online proxy voting services are making it easier for retail investors to vote their proxies. One service, Moxy Vote, allows investors to align their votes with advocacy groups they trust. Starting this month, 2020 Women on Boards joins the ranks of Moxy Vote Advisors, endorsing resolutions that encourage board diversity and slates that include women director candidates.

In the last week alone, we’ve endorsed the slates of 13 companies that have included women on the slate, including Capital Federal Financial, Warner Music Group, Novartis, and The Walt Disney Company (see the full list here).

Even if you don’t use the site to vote your proxies, Moxy Vote is a great way to monitor corporate resolutions and to follow initiatives you care about. Find an advocate that aligns with your interests and see what resolutions they support. It's like Facebook for shareholders. How cool is that?

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