Events James McRitchie will attend

James McRitchie

The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Board Member  I contributed Chapter 21, The Individual’s Role in Driving Corporate Governance. My current focus is filing shareholder proposals at companies with proxy access lite bylaws that don’t meet best practices. Don’t miss:

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Trump: Draining the Swamp

Kevin Siers cartoon on Trump Draining the Swamp

Kevin Siers cartoon on Trump Draining the Swamp

CPA Statement on President Trump’s Silence on “Draining The Swamp” in Money and Politics

Bruce Freed, president of CPA, issued the following statement about President Trump’s failure to address campaign finance reform and corporate political disclosure and accountability in his Inaugural Speech:

President Donald Trump made ‘draining the swamp’ a centerpiece of his presidential campaign. However, the swamp will only deepen with his failure to even mention one of today’s critical issues – campaign finance reform – in his Inaugural address. This is a tremendous missed opportunity. As a steadily growing number of America’s leading companies are adopting transparency and accountability for their political spending, the President could have endorsed their effort and given it a big boost. Instead, his silence only heightens the risks that political spending poses to companies. So sad.

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The Shareholder Action Guide

The Shareholder Action GuideThis could be the most important book you will read in 2017, For more than twenty years, I have been posting to corpgov.net, thinking I should write a book. The closest I got was The Individual’s Role in Driving Corporate Governance, a chapter in The Handbook of Board Governance. Now it is too late. Andrew Behar has stolen my thunder with The Shareholder Action Guide: Unleash Your Hidden Powers to Hold Corporations Accountable. Behar tells better stories and takes a more practical approach than I probably would have. He even has one of my favorite cartoons right before the Contents page.

yes-the-planed-got-destroyed

My task now is to help him get more readers, so they can join in our good work.  Buy the book at Amazon.com.

Want to make misbehaving corporations mend their ways? You can! Behar tells you how in this guide for good corporate citizenship. I teach an occasional seminar at a local university, hoping to inspire mostly retirees to use their investments as a tool to make corporations accountable. Behar covers much the same ground I do but in great detail, beginning with a few examples of bad corporate behavior and a brief explanation of corporate power.
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Trump’s LL Bean Political Contributions

LL Bean LogoDo not make the same mistake as LL Bean. The last thing I want is to turn CorpGov.net into another social media outlet on Donald Trump. However, the advice offered today by Bruce Freed, president of the Center for Political Accountability (CPA), is something public company boards should be discussing as they try to stay on the good side of President-elect Donald Trump, without being ethically challenged.

While, the advice flowed out of the controversy over President-elect Donald Trump’s endorsement of LL Bean following a contribution to a political action committee supporting Mr. Trump from a Bean family member, it closely tracks advice CPA has been giving for years.  Continue Reading →

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Looking for Best SRI Funds? Start Here

Best SRI Funds

Best SRI Funds

After making the decision to apply the principles of SRI investing, many clients embark on the initial step of selecting a core stock fund. Traditional investors have literally hundreds of highly efficient core investment solutions. However, SRI investors aren’t so blessed—which is why I put together this core list of Best SRI Funds.

Best SRI funds need to start out by being financially sustainable. Some fund companies seem to believe that they can rake in higher fees on the backs of well meaning investors. The primary objective of a core fund is to match the market with as little cost drag as possible. Continue Reading →

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US SIF Comments on DOL Guidance Update

DOLThe Department of Labor (DOL) rescinded Interpretive Bulletin 2008-2 relating to the Exercise of Shareholder Rights and replaced it with Interpretive Bulletin 2016-01 which reinstates the language of Interpretive Bulletin 94-2 with some modifications. US SIF supports this change as IB 2008-2 was not only inconsistent with prior guidance, but may have discouraged ERISA plan fiduciaries from exercising their shareholder rights.

The guidance appropriately notes the positive role fiduciaries play through the exercise of shareholder rights. Additionally, this guidance also reinforces the language of IB 2015-1 on economically targeted investments which clarified that environmental, social and governance (ESG) impacts can be intrinsic to the market value of an investment. Continue Reading →

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SRI Movement: Don’t Go Alone

SRI MovementBe Part of the SRI Movement

A lack of affordable SRI investing solutions may incentivize some savvy investors to do their own research and purchase their own portfolio of individual stocks, but this is almost always a mistake. There is power in the SRI Movement.

If you’re joining the SRI movement, it’s likely because you have a vision for our world and the economy that’s bigger than your own portfolio. To leverage the full scope of impact, you should identify ways that you can coordinate your efforts with others whose values overlap with your own. The easiest way to do this is by purchasing a SRI fund, but there are other ways to maximize your impact. Continue Reading →

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Nell Minow: Advice for Shareholders

Nell Minow

Nell Minow

What better way to bring in the new year than to get advice from Nell Minow, the Queen of Good Corporate Governance, especially with the Trump Administration about to begin? In the talk below, Minow addresses an audience sponsored by the Center for Study of Responsive Law, which held its second four-day conference on securing long-overdue democratic solutions in Washington, D.C. from September 26-28, 2016.

In her brief talk, Nell Minow offers several simple strategies for retail shareholders on how we can impact corporate boards. Ready to roll up your sleeves but need some help? I highly recommend two practical guides:

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Vanguard: Review Climate Change Voting

Vanguard Asked to Report on Climate Change VotingWalden seeks co-filers for resolutions asking Vanguard to review and report on its proxy voting policies and practices related to climate change.

It is rare when investors file a resolution with a mutual fund since most funds don’t hold regular annual meetings. Nonetheless the act of filing puts the fund on notice that participants are concerned about their voting record on issues like climate change. Tim Smith shared this new resolution with Vanguard, which as many know signed onto the UN’s PRI.

It is significant that investors are questioning their proxy voting record on issues like climate change. Continue Reading →

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NRDC Seeks E2 Organizing Director

NRDCNRDC Overview of E2 Position

The Natural Resources Defense Council (NRDC) is the nation’s most effective environmental action group, combining the grassroots power of 1.4 million members and online activists with the courtroom clout and expertise of nearly 500 lawyers, scientists and other professionals to fight for the planet and its people in the halls of Congress, communities across the country, and nations around the globe.  NRDC was founded in 1970 and our staff helped write some of America’s bedrock environmental laws, including the Clean Water Act, and many of the implementing regulations; our water enforcement cases played a major role shaping current water policy throughout the country. Today, our staff – a force for nature – work out of offices in New York, Washington, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Bozeman, Montana and Beijing. Continue Reading →

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Park and Dibadj Consultancy

Douglas Park of Park and Dibadj Consultancy

Douglas Park

Douglas Park and Reza Dibadj have launched their boutique business and legal consultancy, Park and Dibadj (P&D)—a unique firm that addresses unmet needs in corporate strategy and governance. We bring decades of successful experience as both lawyers and strategists in extraordinarily challenging environments.

We believe that a siloed approach—law on the one hand, business on the other—cannot adequately address the most pressing problems of corporate governance and strategy. As such, we develop business strategies and also implement transactional structures and substantive legal arguments.

Reza Dibadj of Park and Dibadj Consultancy

Reza Dibadj

Our experience practicing, consulting, and teaching both business law and strategy allows us to address two critical issues that companies face: corporate development and mitigating legal, operational, and financial risks to organizations and their directors and officers.

Corporate Development

With respect to corporate development, Park & Dibadj:

  • Collaborate with domestic and international business entities that seek financing strategies that do not require securities registration.
  • Advise on mergers & acquisitions, including identifying targets, contractual structures, appraisal rights, and due diligence to maximize the chances of a successful deal.

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First Proxy Access Failed: What Needs Fixed?

First Proxy Access -Cartoon from Pensions & Investments

First Proxy Access – Cartoon from Pensions & Investments

As most readers probably know, the first proxy access campaign was terminated by GAMCO Asset Management Inc. (affiliated with activist investor Mario Gabelli) after their eligibility under National Fuel Gas Company (“NFG”) bylaws was challenged. Since I petitioned for an SEC rulemaking to allow proxy access in 2002 and have been an active filer on the topic, several in the press asked if this is the end. Not by any measure.

GAMCO has indeed had a history of clearly trying to “influence” NFG. I haven’t researched enough to make an independent judgment as to whether or not such prior activities rise to the level of an “intent to change or influence control of the Corporation.” (my emphasis). However, NFG certainly had grounds to seek dismissal. Continue Reading →

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