Monday, February 28, 2011

CEO Pay and Political Lobbying Top the Proxy Agenda

Last week I participated in the 2011 Proxy Preview webinar hosted by As You Sow and the Sustainable Investments Institute (SI2). There are some interesting topics on the agenda this year, so I thought I'd give you a preview of the proxy voting trends for 2011.

For the beginners, first thing is first, what exactly is proxy voting?  Proxy voting is an important tool for investors to exercise the rights and responsibilities that come with owning shares in a company.  Every year, shareholders of publicly traded companies get to vote on key issues such as the election of directors, appointment of auditors and other corporate governance matters.  Shareholders also vote on shareholder proposals, which are simply formal requests submitted by fellow shareholders asking companies to take an action, or adopt a policy. Voting on environmental, social and governance (ESG) shareholder proposals sends an important signal to companies about what issues are important to investors, and can often help focus a company's attention on critical improvements it needs to make. 

Thursday, February 17, 2011

SIO zeros in on barriers to growth

This post first appeared as a Guest Blog by Eugene Ellmen on SRI Monitor.

With an annual budget of less than half a million dollars and a staff of three, the resources of the Social Investment Organization (SIO) are limited. Yet the needs of the SRI industry are considerable. There is significant retail demand and growing institutional interest SRI, but there is also a stubborn lack of awareness by key gatekeepers. This problem is proving to be a major barrier to industry growth. As the industry’s trade association, the SIO has a mandate to identify these barriers, and to advance solutions to overcome them.

In its most recent annual strategic plan, the SIO Board identifies these barriers in terms of three key stakeholder groups; the public and financial industry stakeholders, the institutional sector and the retail sector.