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


Forum distribution:

SEC endorses common sense in communications to win investor support


For background on the SEC-hosted conference organized by Columbia Law School and the European Corporate Governance Institute reported below, see


Source: Reuters, December 3, 2013 article


SEC Chair White touts benefits of shareholder activism

By Sarah N. Lynch

WASHINGTON Tue Dec 3, 2013 2:01pm EST


SEC Chair Mary Jo White testifies at a Senate Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs Committee hearing on Capitol Hill July 30, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Jose Luis Magana

(Reuters) - Corporate boards and management should engage with shareholders to help improve governance, the top U.S. securities regulator said Tuesday, laying out what she sees as some positive outcomes from increased investor activism.

"It was not long ago the activist moniker had a distinctly negative connotation," Securities and Exchange Commission Chair Mary Jo White said at a conference organized by the European Corporate Governance Institute and held at the SEC's Washington headquarters.

"That view of shareholder activists ... is not necessarily the current view."

In a speech that touched on measures advocated by shareholder activists, from say-on-pay votes to executive compensation disclosures, White said she believed the landscape has changed.

In some cases, she noted, such measures have helped foster more productive communication among management, boards and shareholders.

"The process has become less defensive and more proactive," White said. "We are seeing a concerted effort to persuade shareholders of the wisdom of management's choices and practices. That is a good thing."

While a company cannot and should not always do what every shareholder asks, she added, its board and management should listen to investors and adjust their governance practices "when warranted."

Since taking over the helm of the SEC in the spring, White, an independent, has expressed a range of views on corporate governance matters.

She irked the two Republican SEC commissioners by pushing ahead with a proposal championed by labor rights groups and required by Congress to force companies to disclose the ratio of their CEOs' compensation to the median pay for their workers.

But in another recent speech, she criticized Congress for forcing the SEC to adopt rules that require companies to disclose information designed to exert societal pressures. One such rule required by the 2010 Dodd-Frank law requires manufacturers to say whether their products contain certain "conflict minerals" from a war-torn part of Africa.

Just last week, the removal of a proposal to force companies to disclose their political contributions from the agency's published list of 2014 rulemaking priorities irritated liberal groups.

The idea was prompted by Supreme Court's 2010 ruling in Citizens United, which held that independent expenditures by corporations are constitutional and helped pave the way for spending by so-called "super" political action committees.

Some groups had held out hope the SEC would take up the measure, which has attracted well over half a million public comments.

"We are disappointed that the Securities and Exchange Commission is not including a rulemaking to require disclosure of corporate political spending on its regulatory agenda for 2014," Richard Trumka, president of the AFL-CIO labor federation, said in a statement on Tuesday.

"Since the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, we have seen a dramatic increase in political spending by corporations. Yet much of this spending is not disclosed to investors who own public companies."

White has declined to offer her opinion on whether the SEC should write rules to require companies to disclose their campaign spending. However, she told reporters on the sidelines of Tuesday's event not to jump to conclusions about the proposal's removal from the upcoming agenda.

The current list of rulemakings "reflects my best estimate as to what we will be able to reach at the commission level" for the remainder of the fiscal year, White said. "I wouldn't deduce anything beyond that."

The current fiscal year runs through September of 2014.

White's speech comes two days before the SEC hosts an event focused on another hot-button corporate governance issue: the role of proxy advisory firms in company elections.

Thursday's roundtable meeting will explore whether proxy advisory firms wield too much influence on elections and whether new regulations could be warranted.

White has declined to say whether she sees a need for rulemaking in this area. However, SEC Republican Commissioner Daniel Gallagher has pressed for reforms.

(Reporting by Sarah N. Lynch; Editing by Karey Van Hall, Lisa Von Ahn and Tim Dobbyn)


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.