Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner today issued an overview of the actions his office has taken this year to strengthen corporate accountability at hundreds of publicly traded companies in which the state's pension fund invests.
Each year, publicly traded companies seek votes from shareholders on items including electing board members, executive pay packages, as well as proposals from shareholders on environmental, social and governance issues. As a multi-billion-dollar investor in the U.S. and Global stock markets, Rhode Island's pension fund holds shares in thousands of companies.
"Every Rhode Islander deserves to retire with dignity and financial security, especially those who spend their careers in public service," said Treasurer Magaziner. "We expect companies in which we invest to engage in responsible business practices that protect members of the pension fund from financial risk. Shareholder engagement allows us to advocate for our members and hold corporations accountable."
Highlights of Rhode Island's 2018 shareholder engagement include:
- Filing a shareholder proposal with Navient Corp, the nation's largest student loan servicer, pushing for stronger measures to address the student loan crisis; winning the support of nearly half of Navient shareholders.
- Opposing executive compensation proposals at dozens of companies, including IBM, Aflac and American Express, where executive pay packages were not justified by the company's performance.
- Leading and participating in successful shareholder engagements that secured agreements from energy companies ExxonMobil, ConocoPhillips, and Devon Energy to publicly disclose additional information on the use of shareholder money for lobbying and climate denial activities.
- Opposing the election of board directors at more than 200 companies that failed to ensure adequate racial or gender diversity on their corporate boards. A growing body of research shows that companies with greater levels of diversity at senior levels have stronger financial performance and lower risk over time.
- Joining a large coalition of concerned investors seeking stronger disclosures about a data breach at credit reporting company Equifax, which allowed 145 million American's confidential information to be breached in 2017.
Treasurer Magaziner's 2018 Shareholder Engagement Review, along with information on proxy voting can be found at: www.treasury.ri.gov/shareholderengagement
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