The Handbook of Board Governance

The Handbook of Board Governance

When I agreed to contribute a chapter to Richard Leblanc’s book, I knew he was an an excellent speaker, blogger and teacher. I also suspected he was a good promoter. How else could he attract over 23,000 members to his Linkedin group, Boards & Advisors? But, I never dreamed I’d see The Handbook of Board Governance: A Comprehensive Guide for Public, Private, and Not-for-Profit Board Members make the lights of New York’s Times Square across from the Hard Rock Cafe. Now I’m half expecting to see Leblanc on the late night TV circuit, like a candidate for public office reaching out to voters.
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#ICGN16 Part 5 – Diversity, ESG & Audits

Accelerating Board Diversity Panel #ICGN16

#ICGN16: Accelerating Board Diversity Panel

#ICGN16, the annual meeting of the International Corporate Governance Network, was held in San Francisco, June 27-29. #ICGN16 was the hashtag for tweeting at the meeting, so check Twitter for additional posts to #ICGN16. This post is a continuation of a few rough notes from the conference. Read Part 1Part 2Part 3 and Part 4 of #ICGN16. Continue Reading →

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Food Safety Report & Webinar

Food Safety Regulations Compared

Food Safety Regulations Compared

Food safety is an issue I’ve been concerned with for years, first as head of California’s cooperative development program, then while on the boards of a food co-op and a wholesale distributor. I remember going for a State of California job interview with someone who lived a few houses down from the co-op. During the interview, he told me the co-op had a problem with mice. They were invading the neighborhood. When he complained to co-op staff, he was told the mice have just as much right to live as anyone else. Oops, my board experience had gone from the plus to the minus column, plus I had a food safety issue to deal with. That was thirty years ago. Continue Reading →

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Reeds Inc: Proposals Due Monday – Update

Chris Reed of Reeds Inc: What Happened to Culture Club Kombucha?

Chris Reed of Reeds Inc: What Happened to Culture Club Kombucha?

Update 7/12/2016: Reeds Inc received two faxed proposals from two shareholders before the deadline for submissions. It looks like shareholders will get to vote on both proxy access and creating an independent chairman. Maybe shareholders can help to turn our company around. Institutional investors only hold about 14% of Reeds Inc and insiders hold 26%, so retail shareholders will need to do the heavy lifting. We’d better get in shape. Hope springs eternal; stock up over 6% for the day.

Reeds Inc doesn’t have their annual meeting until December but proxy proposals are due Monday. I’m submitted a proposal on proxy access but almost submitted a proposal to split the chair and CEO positions. Reeds Inc really needs both. I’m hoping another shareholder will submit a proposal to split the chair and CEO positions. If you own shares in Reeds Inc but aren’t sure how to file a proposal, check out our Shareowner Action Handbook. Still can’t figure it out how to submit a proposal or want some help? Please get in touch. I would be happy to help.

In preparation for December’s annual meeting, I’ll be building more arguments about why change is needed at Reeds Inc but the following are a few thoughts off the top of my head. Continue Reading →

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#ICGN16: Part 3 – Integrating ESG

#ICGN16, the annual meeting of the International Corporate Governance Network, was held in San Francisco, June 27-29. #ICGN16 was the hashtag for tweeting at the meeting, so check Twitter for additional posts to #ICGN16. This post is a continuation of a few rough notes from the conference. Read Part 1 and Part 2 of #ICGN16.

#ICGN16: Integrating ESG in Strategic Investment Decision-making 

Michael Jantzi, CEO, Sustainalytics moderated the panel.

Michael Jantzi

#ICGN16: ESG – Michael Jantzi

A growing number of institutional investors recognize that good governance and prudent management of an investment portfolio requires the consideration of a range of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. This panel shared perspectives from some of North America’s most experienced investors already developing and implementing ESG integration strategies into their investment processes.

PWC just released report. Chief finding is that Continue Reading →

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#ICGN16: Part 2

#ICGN16

#ICGN16 was held in San Francisco, June 27-29, the annual meeting of the International Corporate Governance Network#ICGN16 was the hashtag for tweeting at the meeting, so check Twitter for additional posts to #ICGN16. This is a continuation of a few of my rough notes from the conference. Accuracy for details isn’t one of my noted strengths, so I’m tempted to say the post is for ‘entertainment purposes’ only but I do hope readers will get some sense of the proceedings. View Part 1 of #ICGN16

#ICGN16: Remarks of Jack Ehnes

Jack EhnesCalPERS and CalSTRS hosted #ICGN16. Unfortunately, I could only spend a short time at the ICGN Conference this year. I did hear one speech from Jack Ehnes, Chief Executive Officer, CalSTRS, paying tribute to his counterpart at CalPERS. Anne Stausboll had been CEO of CalPERS since January 2009 and was/is very committed to sustainable investment. She serves as the chair of the Ceres Board, was one of the drafters of the UN Principles for Responsible Investment and served on its original governing board. I’m sure there were many other well deserved tributes to her throughout #ICGN16. I hope she will continue to be involved after her retirement from CalPERS at the end of June. Continue Reading →

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#ICGN16: Part 1

#ICGN16

#ICGN16 was the hashtag for tweeting about the 2016 annual meeting of the International Corporate Governance Network held in San Francisco, June 27 – 29th, 2016. Check Twitter for additional posts to #ICGN16. What follows are a few of my rough notes from the conference. Accuracy for details isn’t one of my noted strengths, so I’m tempted to say the notes are for entertainment purposes only but I do hope readers will get some sense of the proceedings.

#ICGN16: PreConference Rethink of ‘One Share, One Vote’

Even before the ICGN16 (International Corporate Governance Network annual conference) met in San Francisco last month, two prominent former board members kicked off lively debate by proposing a radical rethink of what has been a guiding principle for many in the movement for good corporate governance. Peter Clapman and Richard Koppes argued in a WSJ opinion piece that longterm shareholders should have greater voting rights.

…the shareholder-rights agenda has been largely achieved. Only 10% of S&P 500 boards are classified today, while some 90% are elected by majority vote. Only 3% have a poison pill in force. More than 35% of S&P 500 companies have adopted proxy access… 

Richard Koppes

Richard Koppes

Peter Clapman

Peter Clapman

Activists increasingly demand board representation to implement their agenda, often meaning that short-term investors take and quickly relinquish boards’ seats. Boards frequently settle with activists out of fear of losing a proxy battle—or worse, winning a Pyrrhic victory. (Time to Rethink ‘One Share, One Vote’?)

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Review: What They Do With Your Money

What They Do With Your MoneyWhat They Do With Your Money: How the Financial System Fails Us and How to Fix It

What they do with your money is central to many issues of citizens around the world. This wonderful new book by Stephen Davis, Jon Lukomnik, David Pitt-Watson helps readers connect the dots. While its focus is on the financial system, its purpose is empowering individual citizen investors and those who would be investors if that system were redesigned to serve us all.

Fixing the system won’t be easy. We can’t count on most of those those benefiting from the system to initiate needed changes but the authors provide a roadmap of how needed reforms can be accomplished. Continue Reading →

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Positive Impact of SRI Investors

SRI InvestorsSustainable, responsible and impact, SRI investors, have influenced the investment industry, companies, governments and other actors to address environmental, social and governance (ESG) challenges in four major areas, according to The Impact of Sustainable and Responsible Investmenta report released today by the US SIF Foundation.

Influence of SRI Investors

Drawing upon a range of data, surveys and examples, the report focuses on four significant impacts of sustainable, responsible and impact – SRI investors over the past 25 years.  SRI investors have:

  • changed the investment industry, leading to more SRI products and greater access to expert practitioners;
  • improved public companies by stepping up active shareholder ownership and engagement on ESG issues;
  • aided communities and individuals via community investing and other initiatives; and
  • influenced public policy and launched organizations to promote sustainable investment.

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Business Development: Governance Center

The Conference BoardBusiness DevelopmentThe objective of the Director for New Business Development is to promote and sell Governance Center memberships globally, in conjunction with the Governance Center staff and the Directors of Associate Service. Being a well-educated, entrepreneurial, articulate and consultative sales professional, the Director, New Business Development, Governance Center cultivates Global F1000 companies, institutional investment firms and corporate governance services providers, including law firms, that become members of The Conference Board Governance Center and is responsible for closing new Governance Center sales. Continue Reading →

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Medivation Inc – Vote Proxy Access

Medication IncMedivation Inc. (MDVN), a biopharmaceutical company, focuses on the development and commercialization of medical therapies to treat serious diseases in the United States. Their annual meeting is coming up on June 22, 2016.

ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of two fund families when I checked. Vote AGAINST pay, committee, stock plan; FOR proxy access. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 59% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →

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DaVita HealthCare – Written Consent

DaVita HealthCareDaVita HealthCare Partners Inc (NYSE:DVA), one of the companies in my portfolio, provides kidney dialysis services for patients suffering from chronic kidney failure or end stage renal disease. Their annual meeting is coming up on June 20, 2016. I have a proposal on the proxy to allow shareholders to act by written consent.

ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked. Vote AGAINST pay, committee, and proxy access ‘lite’; FOR the right to act by written consent. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 53% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom.

Read Warnings below. What follows are my recommendations on how to vote the proxy in order to enhance corporate governance and long-term value. Continue Reading →

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Facebook Inc: Equal Voting

Facebook IncFacebook Inc (NASD:FB), one of the companies in my portfoliobuilds products that enable people to connect and share through mobile devices and personal computers. Their annual meeting is coming up on June 20, 2016.

ProxyDemocracy.org had collected the votes of three fund families when I checked. Vote AGAINST pay, pay committee, board; FOR all shareholder proposals. I voted with the Board’s recommendations 13% of the time. View Proxy Statement via iiWisdom. Continue Reading →

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Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization

Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of GlobalizationPeter Bloom, of the Department of People and Organisations at The Open University in the UK, takes on a very ambitious project in his recently published book, Authoritarian Capitalism in the Age of Globalization. In a strong critique of neoliberalism, Bloom argues that marketization does not inexorably lead to democratization, it more frequently leads to authoritarian capitalism.

Marketization and globalization incentivize governments to pursue coercive forms of politics favoring foreign investors and corporations at the expense of popular opinion and public welfare. Although he focuses on transitional economies such as Singapore, Mexico, China and Russia, I can see how his analysis fits nicely with the rise of Donald Trump in America. Continue Reading →

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