Forum Home Page [see Broadridge note below]

 The Shareholder ForumTM`

Fair Investor Access

This public program was initiated in collaboration with The Conference Board Task Force on Corporate/Investor Engagement and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies. The Forum is providing continuing reports of the issues that concern this program's participants, as summarized  in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

"Fair Access" Home Page

"Fair Access" Program Reference


Related Projects 2012-2019

For graphed analyses of company and related industry returns, see

Returns on Corporate Capital

See also analyses of

Shareholder Support Rankings





The study summarized below can be downloaded here. For reports of the early foundations of "engagement" addressed in the new study and the initial 2011 ISS paper, see


Source: The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute, April 10, 2014 press release

Engagement Between Corporations And Investors At All Time High, Creating High Satisfaction Levels From All Sides

Webinar on Thursday, April 17th at 2 PM ET to Review Findings.

NEW YORK, NY, April 10, 2014 -A new study finds that the level of engagement between investors and publicly traded U.S. corporations is at an all time high. Both investors and corporate officials surveyed believe the increased level of engagement is successful.

The study finds that the new requirement that U.S. companies seek shareholder approval on management compensation ("say on pay" voting) is the largest reason for the increase. "Say on pay" was credited by nearly one-half of both investors and companies as a cause for the increase in engagement. However, this issue is only part of a broader shift in dialogue. Engagement trends continue to deepen – there are conversations on more issues, discussions are more frequent, corporate directors are more involved, and companies are realizing the upsides of proactive shareholder engagement.

The study, Defining Engagement: An Update on the Evolving Relationship Between Shareholders, Directors and Executives, updates the first-ever benchmarking of engagement completed three years ago. The new report, authored by Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS) and commissioned by the Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute (IRRCi), surveyed 82 institutional investors with aggregate assets under management of more than $17 trillion, and 133 US-listed companies with an aggregate market capitalization of more than $2.3 trillion. The survey, undertaken during the fall of 2013, was supplemented with 45 in-depth interviews.

Some of the report’s key findings are as follows:

  • Engagement is more firmly rooted in the corporate governance landscape. Only about one-fifth of both companies (22 percent) and investors (19 percent) had not initiated any engagement in the past year. That number is down from more than one-fourth of companies (27 percent) and nearly one-half of investors (44 percent) three years ago.

  • The number of engagements is up. Among companies, 47 percent reported initiating more than ten engagements with investors, up from 30 percent three years ago. Among investors, 55 percent reported more than 10 engagements, up from 31 percent in the earlier study.

  • Corporate directors are more likely to take part in engagements today than three years ago, though such participation is still the exception. Companies reported their engagements were "usually" successful 72 percent of the time and "always" successful 11 percent of the time, compared with 44 percent of investors who said they were "usually" successful and 6 percent who said "always." The remainder of respondents for both companies and investors said they were "sometimes" successful; no companies or investors reported that they were never successful. The results are largely consistent with the previous study, which also found success levels higher among companies.

  • The subject matter of engagement is varied. Both investors and companies reported frequent subject areas were executive compensation and other governance issues. Other frequent topics for investors were: social issues, environmental issues and transactions (such as mergers or acquisitions) and corporate strategy. Corporations reported frequent engagement on financial results, transactions and corporate strategy.

  • Both investors and companies, but particularly companies, seem to be getting more comfortable with engaging. Both investors and companies are devoting more resources to their engagement efforts.

"This is the rare instance where a regulatory reform is working as intended. No matter your views on say on pay, it has forced increased communication between public companies and shareowners – and that’s a positive outcome," said Jon Lukomnik, IRRCi executive director. "Moreover, the conversations have expanded beyond one narrow issue. Issuers and investors now are engaging more frequently on merger and acquisition activity, environmental and social issues, board structure, director qualifications, corporate strategy and financial results."

"Although engagement levels at an individual company will continue to fluctuate from year to year based on varied factors, evidence suggests that the upward trend will continue," said Marc Goldstein, study author and head of engagement at ISS. "Dialogue will continue to play prominently as investors seek to mitigate risks at companies they intend to hold for the long-term, while, concurrently, issuers seek to win support for company proposals, ward off activists, and keep shareholders happily invested in the stock."

Other findings from the report include:

  • A majority of survey participants reported that the number of engagements in which they had participated during the previous year has increased. Among investors, 49 percent reported that the number of engagements had increased somewhat, while 18 percent said the number of engagements had increased significantly. The remaining one-third of investors said the number of engagements had not changed, while not a single investor reported a decrease. Nearly one-half of issuers also said that the number of engagements had increased "somewhat," while 10 percent said it had increased "significantly." Only 2 percent of issuers reported that engagement had decreased somewhat, but no issuers reported a significant decrease.

  • Half of investor respondents reported that the three-year trend was for engagement to expand to cover more topics. Among issuers, 38 percent reported an expansion. Investors noted that they are engaging more on sustainability, environmental and social issues, as well as risk factors including director and management succession and industry-specific risks. Issuers noted engaging more on governance and compensation, environmental and social issues, as well as company-specific factors such as changes to the senior leadership team.

  • With respect to defining success, dialogue is the hallmark of a successful engagement for issuers. Some 93 percent of issuer respondents said that a constructive dialogue on specific issues of concern was sufficient to make an engagement successful; while 69 percent of issuers said that the establishment of a dialogue, even if contentious, was sufficient to constitute success. Investors were notably less likely than issuers to equate dialogue with success, although nearly two-thirds of investor respondents did say that a constructive dialogue on issues of concern would make an engagement successful. A slightly higher percentage of investors said that a commitment to engage in the future would constitute success, and 73 percent answered that additional disclosure or a change in company policies or practices would suffice to make an engagement successful.

"Clearly, engagement is not going away. Engagement is here to stay and will continue to grow. So, it seems to be in the best interest of shareowners and issuers to find ways to manage this increased engagement efficiently and productively," Lukomnik said.

Download the full study here.

NOTE: A webinar is scheduled for Thursday, April 17, 2014, at 2 PM to review the findings. Register here.

The Investor Responsibility Research Center Institute is a not-for-profit organization headquartered in New York, NY, that provides thought leadership at the intersection of corporate responsibility and the informational needs of investors. More information is available a

IRRC Media Contact
Kelly Kenneally

Institutional Shareholder Services Inc. (ISS), founded in 1985, is the world's leading provider of proxy advisory and corporate governance solutions to financial market participants. ISS' services include objective proxy research and analysis, end-to-end proxy voting and distribution solutions, turnkey securities class-action claims management, and reliable governance data and modeling tools. Clients rely on ISS' expertise to help them make informed corporate governance decisions. For more information, please visit

ISS Contact
Subodh Mishra

© 2014 IRRCi


This Forum program was open, free of charge, to anyone concerned with investor interests in the development of marketplace standards for expanded access to information for securities valuation and shareholder voting decisions. As stated in the posted Conditions of Participation, the purpose of this public Forum's program was to provide decision-makers with access to information and a free exchange of views on the issues presented in the program's Forum Summary. Each participant was expected to make independent use of information obtained through the Forum, subject to the privacy rights of other participants.  It is a Forum rule that participants will not be identified or quoted without their explicit permission.

This Forum program was initiated in 2012 in collaboration with The Conference Board and with Thomson Reuters support of communication technologies to address issues and objectives defined by participants in the 2010 "E-Meetings" program relevant to broad public interests in marketplace practices. The website is being maintained to provide continuing reports of the issues addressed in the program, as summarized in the January 5, 2015 Forum Report of Conclusions.

Inquiries about this Forum program and requests to be included in its distribution list may be addressed to

The information provided to Forum participants is intended for their private reference, and permission has not been granted for the republishing of any copyrighted material. The material presented on this web site is the responsibility of Gary Lutin, as chairman of the Shareholder Forum.

Shareholder Forum™ is a trademark owned by The Shareholder Forum, Inc., for the programs conducted since 1999 to support investor access to decision-making information. It should be noted that we have no responsibility for the services that Broadridge Financial Solutions, Inc., introduced for review in the Forum's 2010 "E-Meetings" program and has since been offering with the “Shareholder Forum” name, and we have asked Broadridge to use a different name that does not suggest our support or endorsement.