The 2021 proxy season (proxies voted between 7/1/20 to 6/30/21) was a record breaker on several levels. On one level, 16 companies had failed advisory votes on pay, an increase from the 10 in 2020 and 7 in 2019. On a deeper level, the trends are more remarkable – 32 S&P 500 companies had more than 40% of shareholders oppose executive pay, a fourfold increase since 2017 when only 8 companies saw the same level of opposition.
This follows a trend of increasing opposition to executive compensation in the last few years, with 20 companies in 2020 and 14 companies in both 2019 and 2018 seeing the same level of opposition. Semler Brossy found that the average level of support at all S&P 500 companies fell below 90% for the first time ever in 2021 (to 88.7%). Many of the votes were made in objection to awards given in light of COVID. Semler Brossy’s analysis “indicates that special awards granted in 2020 more frequently breached investor and proxy advisor preferred structures for such awards in comparison to prior years.”Proxy Season Review: Failed Say on Pay Votes — As You Sow