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S&P 100 companies increase disclosure on investor engagement

Nearly half of S&P 100 companies included information in 2016 that showed how they responded to shareholder concerns and made changes to policies, according to a new report from US corporate adviser, Equilar.

 

In 2016 42% of S&P 100 companies included disclosures in their proxy statements on how they modified their practices after engaging with shareholders compared to just 14% in 2012. The research shows that companies have also become more transparent with regards to addressing say on pay vote results although there has not been a consistent improvement. By 2016 32% of S&P 100 companies included information about how they responded to say on pay which was nearly double that of the 17% that disclosed in 2012. However, the number had fallen for two consecutive years from 2013 to 2015.

Equilar said that although not disclosing the information does not mean that other companies had not engaged with companies. However, if information on the engagement is made publicly available, it can serve as a message to other stakeholders. For example, Equilar said, employee advocates or the media may be closely scrutinising company policy but would not have access to the deeper insight a shareholder would receive from direct engagement outreach, and they can benefit from this disclosure.

Dan Marcec, director of content at Equilar, said: “Companies have an opportunity to use the proxy to reach out to stakeholders en masse each year. Even a simple acknowledgement that they were pleased with say on pay voting results as a reflection of their good will with shareholders may open the door for better investor relations on other topics.

The research also found that the average S&P 100 Compensation Disclosure and Analysis (CD&A), which is a required part of a US company’s annual proxy statement, grew in length by 5% from about 8,900 words in 2012 to about 9,400 words in 2016, despite a slight decrease in 2013. The prevalence of compensation program checklists in company disclosures rose from 5% in 2012 to 66% in 2016, the report revealed.

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