BRT’s members are the chief executives of the largest American companies; together with the US Chamber of Commerce, BRT has actively campaigned to roll back shareholder rights and reduce governance standards. Dimon, who famously slammed investors as “lazy” for using shareholder voting services, replaces Doug Oberhelman, chairman and CEO of Caterpillar. Together with the Business Roundtable corporate governance committee chair John Hayes, chairman and CEO of Ball Corporation, Oberhelman has demanded limitations on shareholder proposals, and to restrict proxy advisory firms. The CII, which represents US pension funds and campaigns for strong corporate governance practices and shareholder rights said it, along with many of its members, had sharply criticised this Congressional proposal.
Dimon himself was of the signatories and, the CII said, was seen as a driving force behind the Commonsense Principles of Corporate Governance published in July 2016. As reported by Manifest these were an attempt to quell rising unease and conflict around US governance standards and were given a qualified welcome by the CII.
The CII said: “It is not clear whether new leadership by Dimon will affect BRT views on shareholder rights matters. Dimon is a vocal critic of proxy advisory firms, and the Commonsense Principles tread lightly on shareholder rights, other than clear support for a majority vote standard in election of directors and opposition to dual class voting structures.”
Dimon said it was an honour to be selected to lead the BRT and added, “Given the quality and diversity of its membership, the organization is uniquely positioned to advocate for meaningful solutions that create economic growth and opportunity for all. With a new President and Congress soon to take office, there is a real opportunity for Business Roundtable to be a positive influence and show how business plays a critical role in this growth.
“The results of the U.S. election reflected in some part the frustration that so many people have with the lack of economic opportunity and the challenges they face. By helping to bridge the divide between political parties and working collaboratively to find solutions, Business Roundtable can play a key role in fostering economic mobility and sustained growth. Working together, the business community and government can foster a healthy and vibrant business climate that creates opportunity for everyone in this country.“