VEA Vice Chair Nell Minow is quoted in this Washington Post story about proxy access.
For years, shareholders have sought what’s opaquely known as “proxy access” — the ability to nominate their own director candidates on the company’s ballot. And suddenly, they’re actually getting it, as the number of companies changing their bylaws to allow it grows at a record-setting pace. The proxy adviser Institutional Shareholder Services reports that before 2014, less than one percent of companies in the S&P 500 gave investors the ability to put their own candidates on the company’s ballot. As of Tuesday, 36 percent are offering it — including General Electric, Apple and Citigroup.
Adoption is happening so fast, says ISS special counsel Patrick McGurn, that it’s not unrealistic to say that half of all the largest public companies could have the rule in place within a year. “Since 2014 — in the course of two years — the numbers have gone from nothing to virtually a third,” McGurn said. Compared to the pace of change on other rules about how corporations are governed, “there’s only a couple of issues that have even been in the same ballpark,” McGurn says, and even then, the change came slower….Minow says. “My view is that even if every company in the country tomorrow adopted proxy access you would see it used in a fraction of one percent — and that’s appropriate,” she says. “You will see it only in the most extreme cases. … The boats will not be rocked.”