Investors and the public interested in how the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) casts its proxy votes on key decisions in corporate America can now find that information on the CalPERS website.
CalPERS Discloses Proxy Votes
CalPERS has expanded its online disclosure of proxy voting decisions to include those for all publicly held companies in its portfolio. Prior to this expansion, CalPERS provided proxy voting information for the 300 largest public company holdings in its portfolio.
Visit the CalPERS website to access the new database of proxy voting decisions for more than 10,000 publicly held companies in the CalPERS portfolio, as well as the separate database of the 300 largest public company holdings in the portfolio. Actual voting decisions can be found on their contractor’s site.
According to Ted Eliopoulos, CalPERS Chief Investment Officer:
Openness is one of CalPERS’ Core Values. As a long-term shareowner, our votes are one way we can influence a company’s operations and governance. We want all shareowners to have access to this information.
This past proxy season, CalPERS’ strategic priorities included proxy access and climate risk reporting. In 2016, additional priorities will include investor rights, board quality and diversity, and executive compensation. The CalPERS’ Investment Policy for Global Governance (PDF, 1 MB) outlines the Fund’s principles on all governance issues and guides our proxy voting.
CalPERS seeks to post its proxy votes prior to each company’s annual meeting.
According to the press release:
For more than eight decades, CalPERS has built retirement and health security for state, school, and public agency members who invest their lifework in public service. Our pension fund serves more than 1.7 million members in the CalPERS retirement system and administers benefits for more than 1.4 million members and their families in our health program, making us the largest defined-benefit public pension in the U.S. CalPERS’ total fund market value currently stands at approximately $288 billion.
CalPERS Discloses Proxy Votes: Victory for CalPERS Members
I see this as also a huge victory for CalPERS members. In 2009, I introduced a resolution to the California State Employees Association, comprised of
- SEIU Local 1000, representing rank & file state civil service employees.
- Association of California State Supervisors, representing state managers, supervisors and confidential employees.
- California State Retirees, representing retired state employees.
- CSU Employees Union, representing State University employees.
Delegates enthusiastically passed the resolution, which called on CalPERS to announce its proxy votes in advance so that members could copy CalPERS’ votes when voting their own proxies and so that members could more easily monitor those votes for alignment with our own values. [I wish this same group of organizations would request that California’s Savings Plus program would disclose the proxy votes of contractors but only the California State Retirees have done so.]
For the last six years I have been prodding board members and staff to get this disclosure accomplished at CalPERS. No one at CalPERS ever expressed opposition but other priorities came first. I certainly understand, CalPERS has many worthwhile tasks ahead of it. However, I am delighted they finally got to this one and we now have immediate disclosure of proxy votes. Over a million members and the general public can now vote alongside of CalPERS, making good use of their extensive proxy voting research.
CalPERS Discloses Proxy Votes: Joining Other Responsible Funds
- AFSCME Employees Pension Plan, which manages the retirement funds of AFSCME employees (voting profile) (website )
- CalPERS, which manages the pensions of about 1.5 million California public employees (voting profile) (website )
- CalSTRS, which manages the pension funds of public school teachers in California (voting profile) (website )
- Calvert, which offers socially responsible mutual funds (voting profile) (website )
- CBIS, which manages the assets of over 1,000 Catholic institutions worldwide (voting profile) (website )
- Domini, which offers socially responsible mutual funds (voting profile) (website )
- Florida SBA, which manages retirement funds on behalf of Florida public employees (voting profile) (website )
- Green Century, which offers environmentally responsible mutual funds (voting profile) (website )
- MMA Praxis, which integrates faith and finance for individual and institutional clients (voting profile) (website )
- Trillium Asset Management, which offers socially responsible asset management to individual and institutional clients (voting profile) (website )
The profiles linked above are based on somewhat dated votes. ProxyDemocracy.org is going through a transition to new management and funding. They have recently failed to post data from CalPERS and CalSTRS (and maybe others). However, I expect that to change as their situation within the Sustainable Endowments Institute solidifies.
I will discuss more about their work in future posts but I’m sure many readers are familiar with their College Sustainability Report Card and maybe their Billion Dollar Green Challenge. Join me in making a tax-deductible donation to the Sustainable Endowments Institute before the end of 2015. Support their work.