Malcolm Gladwell’s book The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference discusses the “Broken Window theory.
If a window is broken and left unrepaired, people walking by will conclude that no one cares and no one is in charge. Soon, more windows will be broken, and a sense of anarchy will spread.
In the following post I argue that relatively minor problems, like how items left blank on a proxy are counted and how Broadridge labels shareowner proposals, sends a signal. Just like an abundance of graffiti tells you gangs are in charge, switching blank votes to management and relabeling shareowner proposals to gibberish tells you that shareowners are indifferent and that corporate managers have a clear invitation to more serious crime. I ask readers to take a simple action at the end of the post that, like fixing broken windows, could lead to the end of much more serious abuses. Continue Reading →