In just three years, more than 400 U.S. companies have embraced proxy access

Campaign expanded to include companies with limited C-Suite diversity and those that have failed to adequately disclose carbon emissions

NYC Pension Funds’ shareowner proposals will go to a vote at unresponsive companies, starting with Humana on April 20th and IBM on April 25th

(New York, NY) — Today, New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and the New York City Pension Funds announced that, since last fall, they have negotiated meaningful proxy access bylaws with 50 companies, bringing the total number that have embraced this reform to more than 400 in just three years. Agreements announced today are with both major S&P 500 companies like Texas Instruments, Phillips 66, Consolidated Edison, and Marsh & McLennan and smaller companies such as VeriFone Systems and Diebold.

The announcement reflects the extraordinary success of the Boardroom Accountability Project, which seeks to ensure that corporate boards in the U.S. are diverse, climate-competent, and able to create long-term value by making proxy access — the ability of large, long-term shareowners to nominate board directors on a company’s ballot — a market standard. When the Project was launched in the fall of 2014, only six U.S. companies had meaningful proxy access. Today, more than 400 companies do, including 58% of the S&P 500.

“Over the past few years, we’ve done groundbreaking work to advocate for diverse and climate-competent boards, as well as to hold boards accountable for excessive CEO pay. When shareowners are given a voice, companies do better — and when companies do better, our retirees win. This advocacy is working, and it’s making corporate boards more accountable,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “The Boardroom Accountability Project has taken off because investors want to have a say in who oversees the companies they own. In just three years, we’ve seen a sea change — and proxy access has quickly become a market standard.”

In each of the past three years, the New York City Pension Funds have targeted approximately 75 companies that have little or no board diversity, excessive CEO pay, or that face real risks related to climate change. In 2017, the focus list was expanded to include companies like National Oilwell Varco, which have little or no C-Suite diversity, and Marin Marietta Materials, which have failed to adequately disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.

In stark contrast to the contentious 2015 proxy season — the first of the Boardroom Accountability Project — in which 66 of 75 proposals went to a shareowner vote, most companies today are embracing proxy access. As a result, the Comptroller’s Office expects the New York City Pension Funds’ proxy proposals will go to a vote at no more than 19 companies this year. While most large companies have now enacted proxy access, recalcitrant companies on the New York City Pension Funds’ list include IBM, which holds its meeting on April 25th; Charles Schwab, which holds its annual meeting on May 16th; and Netflix, which is expected to hold its meeting in early June.

To view a list of companies the Comptroller’s Office has targeted for proxy access since the beginning of the Boardroom Accountability Project, click here.

Comptroller Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are composed of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.

In addition to Comptroller Stringer, the New York City Pension Funds’ trustees are:

New York City Employees’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Letitia James; Borough Presidents: Gale Brewer (Manhattan), Melinda Katz (Queens), Eric Adams (Brooklyn), James Oddo (Staten Island), and Ruben Diaz, Jr. (Bronx); Henry Garrido , Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; John Samuelsen, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; Gregory Floyd, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.

Teachers’ Retirement System: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Appointee, John Adler (Chair); Raymond Orlando, representing the Chairperson of the Panel for Educational Policy and Debra Penny, Thomas Brown and David Kazansky, all of the United Federation of Teachers.

New York City Police Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler; New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha; New York City Police Commissioner James P. O’Neill (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen’s Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edward D. Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Louis Turco, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, Roy T. Richter, Captains Endowment Association.

New York City Fire Department Pension Fund: Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Representative, John Adler; New York City Fire Commissioner Daniel A. Nigro (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Jacques Jiha; James Slevin, President, Gerard Fitzgerald, Vice President, Edward Brown, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; John Farina, Captains’ Rep.; Paul Ferro, Chiefs’ Rep., and Jack Kielty, Lieutenants’ Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Thomas Phelan, Marine Engineers Association.

Board of Education Retirement System:  Schools Chancellor Carmen Fariña; Mayoral: Issac Carmignami, T. Elzora Cleveland, Vanessa Leung, Gary Linnen, Lori Podvesker, Stephanie Soto, Benjamin Shuldiner, Miguelina Zorilla-Aristy; Michael Kraft (Manhattan BP), Debra Dillingham (Queens BP), Geneal Chacon (Bronx BP) and Peter Calandrella (Staten Island BP); and employee members John Maderich of the IUOE Local 891 and Donald Nesbit of District Council 37, Local 372.

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