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Report: 2003 Proxy Season Expected to Set Records, With CEO Pay and Global Warming Among Top Issues

Submitted by: IRRC

Categories: Corporate Governance

Posted: Feb 11, 2003 – 11:00 PM EST

 

Continuing Tide of Shareholder Advocacy Felt in Full After Business Scandals; Labor, Religious Groups Help Blur Distinction between 'Traditional' and 'Social' Resolutions

Feb. 11 /CSRwire/ - WASHINGTON, DC - The 2003 proxy season is on track to be a record year for shareholder advocacy -- in terms of the number of resolutions submitted, the number of resolutions likely to come to vote and, possibly, the level of shareholder support. As of February 1, at least 862 shareholder proposals had been filed at publicly traded U.S. companies, compared with just 802 in all of 2002, according to an Investor Responsibility Research Center (IRRC) and Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) report issued today by IRRC, ICCR, the Social Investment Forum and CERES.

Among the fastest-growing issue areas for resolutions include concerns about excessive CEO compensation, global warming, dividing the positions of CEO and chairman, and sexual orientation anti-bias policies. Entitled "2003 Shareholder Proxy Season Overview: Social and Corporate Governance Resolution Trends," the new report notes that filings of corporate governance resolutions rose sharply to 625 by early February 2003, compared with 529 in all of 2002.

At least 237 social and environmental resolutions had been filed by mid-February, up slightly from the number at this point last year.

IRRC Director of Social Issues Services Meg Voorhees said: "In what is a major trend, shareholder advocates concerned with their portfolio companies'social and environmental performance increasingly are reaching the conclusion that these policies cannot be considered in isolation from the companies'governance practices and structure. This is evident in relation to such issues as CEO pay and global warming."

"We see that 2003 is shaping up as the most active year ever for religious shareholder advocates in the United States," said ICCR Executive Director Pat Wolf. "So far this year, members of the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility have filed 140 resolutions with 92 companies."

SIF President Timothy Smith said: "It is clear that 2003 will be remembered as the year when investors decided to stand up and be counted, using their voice and vote to call for strengthened corporate governance and solid corporate citizenship. Investors are moving from passive holders of stock to becoming active and responsible owners ... understanding the leverage they have as individuals and institutions who have invested their capital and faith in these companies."

"Climate-change risk is not just an 'environmental' issue; it is directly related to the bottom-line viability of several leading American industries, including oil, utilities and autos," said CERES Executive Director Mindy Lubber. "In the wake of scandals at Enron and other corporations, investors are now wide awake to the issue of risk, and the awareness that all too many companies are not doing enough to assess, report and mitigate these dangers to shareholder value. The increasing shareholder focus on climate-change issues shows how such 'hidden risks' can no longer be swept under the carpet by unresponsive managers."

For details on 2003 social/environmental and corporate governance resolutions, see the full text of the IRRC/ICCR report at
http://www.hastingsgroup.com/2003ShareholderSeason.html .

ABOUT THE GROUPS
The Investor Responsibility Research Center (http://www.irrc.com ) is the world's leading source of impartial, independent research on corporate governance, proxy voting and corporate responsibility issues. IRRC's mission is to provide the highest quality research on companies and shareholders worldwide. Founded in 1972, IRRC has more than 80 professional staff members.

The Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (http://www.iccr.org )has been a leader of the corporate social responsibility movement for the last three decades. ICCR is an association of 275 faith-based institutional investors, including national denominations, religious communities, pension funds, endowments, hospital corporations, economic development funds and publishing companies. The combined portfolio value of ICCR's member organizations is estimated to be $110 billion.

CERES (http://www.ceres.org ) is the leading U.S. coalition of environmental, investor, and advocacy groups working together for a sustainable future. The CERES Coalition is a network of over 80 organizations that includes investors, advisors, and analysts representing over $300 billion in invested capital.

The Social Investment Forum (http://www.socialinvest.org ) is the national trade association for the social investment industry. The Forum's more than 500 members include financial planners, community banks, mutual fund companies, research companies, foundations, and community investing institutions. The Shareholder Action Network (SAN) is a project of the Social Investment Forum in cooperation with Coop America.

For more information, please contact:

Meg Voorhes Investment Responsiblity Research Center
Phone: +1-202-833-0700

 

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