Every publicly traded company has an annual meeting during which management presents a ballot of issues on which shareholders vote. The issues typically voted on at annual meetings include the election of directors, ratification of auditors and executive compensation and other corporate governance issues, just to name a few. Shareholders may also place issues on the company's ballot, called shareholder resolutions or proposals. Proposals can cover corporate governance or social issues, such as reporting on the environment or labor standards, and are usually sponsored by institutional investors, such as the General Board.
Shareholders who attend the annual meeting may cast their votes in person, but most shareholders cast their votes by proxy—either electronically or by mail. A proxy vote represents a vote regarding one issue on a company ballot. The General Board votes proxies for all companies in which it invests. Since each ballot may contain many issues, thousands of votes are cast each year. Many investment funds vote automatically in favor of management proposals and against shareholder proposals. The General Board votes its proxies actively, meaning that all issues are evaluated and voted according to the Social Principles, established proxy voting guidelines and best corporate governance practices.
Proxy voting is an important way for shareholders to exercise their rights of ownership and communicate their interests to company management and the board of directors.
General Board Proxy-Voting Guidelines and Proxy-Voting Record
You may review a complete list of our proxy guidelines and our proxy-voting record to further understand how the General Board votes its proxies in alignment with the Social Principles.
Additional information is offered on proxy voting in today's corporate climate, and details about voting proxies for the individual shareholder.