Rhode Island Treasurer Seth Magaziner, along with Illinois Treasurer Michael Frerichs, Pennsylvania Treasurer Joe Torsella, and New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer, has co-filed a shareholder proposal at Facebook, requesting the board of directors make the role of Board Chair an independent position.
Treasurer Magaziner's action comes just weeks after Facebook disclosed that nearly thirty million users may have had their data stolen.
"Facebook's board of directors must take responsible steps to protect the interests of the Rhode Island pension fund and other investors by providing independent oversight of company management and its CEO," said Rhode Island General Treasurer Seth Magaziner.
Facebook's current governance structure puts its investors - including members of the Rhode Island pension system - at risk. Having an independent board chair, separate from the role of CEO, is best governance practice that is in the long-term interest of shareholders, employees, and users.
"Without an independent board chair, the board's oversight of the company remains inadequate, as evidenced by the recent mishandling of several controversies. Having an independent board chair - separate from the Mr. Zuckerberg's role as CEO - is in the best long-term interest of Facebook shareholders, including the members of Rhode Island's pension system," added Treasurer Magaziner.
The shareholder proposal, which was originally filed by Trillium Asset Management, focuses on Facebook's failing to recognize, or its mishandling of, controversies including Russian meddling in U.S. elections, the sharing personal data of 87 million users with Cambridge Analytica, data sharing with device manufacturers including Huawei - which has been flagged by U.S. intelligence agencies as a national security threat - and proliferating fake news.
Google, Microsoft, Apple, Oracle, and Twitter have separate CEO and Chairperson roles. More broadly, 59% of the S&P 1500 separated these roles as of April 2018.
An independent Board Chair would provide the necesary oversight of the management of the company which the treasurers believe would benefit Facebook, its shareholders, and its global community of users.
The proposal will be put to a vote at the company's annual shareholder meeting in May 2019.
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You can read the shareholder proposal at www.treasury.ri.gov/facebookproposal