The EY Center for Board Matters is tracking more than 900 shareholder proposals submitted for meetings through June 30, 2015, which is around 50 more shareholder proposals than we tracked over the same period last year.
Proxy access (a board-focus topic) may be the most commonly submitted shareholder proposal this year; however, when considered by category, environmental and social topics continue to dominate the shareholder proposal landscape in terms of overall number of proposals submitted. Shareholder proposals on environmental and social topics represent 42% of all shareholder proposals submissions in 2015, compared to 46% in 2014 and 39% in 2013.
In recent years, the shareholder proposal withdrawal rate has hovered at around 30%, but that has dipped to 26% so far this year. This decrease is due, in part, to the fact that proxy access shareholder proposals, which have a low withdrawal rate, top the list of most commonly submitted shareholder proposals this year. Also, 2015 has seen a major decrease in the submission of proposals seeking the elimination of classified boards (down from 100 submissions in 2013 to only 20 this year), which typically have a high withdrawal rate.
Similar to 2014, around half of shareholder proposals voted on were supported by 30% or more of votes cast (the level at which most boards take notice), and around 15% of the proposals received majority support. Failure to implement a majority-supported shareholder proposal can lead to votes against incumbent nominees in the following year.