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Institutional Investors Lobby Obama on Governance

Barack Obama is getting a full court press from institutional investors who want big changes in corporate governance. More than 60 groups want the president-elect to stop a five-year-old trend towards blocking proxies that want firms to do a better job of revealing their financial risks and take more social and environmental responsibility.
Among the institutional investors lobbying are Trillium Asset Management, Boston Common Asset Management, Catholic Healthcare West, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, the Investor Environmental Health Network, Domini Social Investments and the Investor Network on Climate Risk.
Besides pushing firms to tell more about financial risk, they want more attention paid via proxy resolutions to a number of social and environmental issues.

A number of the groups have plied annual meetings with shareholders resolutions demanding that companies address their impact on global warming or worker safety. Some were signatories to a raft of resolutions that was sent to ExxonMobil last spring during which management beat back an assault led by members of the Rockefeller family whose great grandfather founded the firm.

Under the Bush Administration, the the Securities & Exchange Commission has repeatedly beaten back efforts to give shareholders more power, such as allowing them to push their own slates for directors. The groups said that the SEC has been "gradually closing the door to important shareholder concerns."

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