Proxy Resolutions, Shareholder Engagement, and Buggy Whips

by Marcy Murninghan for The Murninghan Post, February 28th, 2011.

The TakeAway: Proxy resolutions continue to influence corporate behavior on social policy and corporate governance, but proponents need to explore additional forms of engagement, including social media and other digital means.

It’s the day after the Oscars, and whatever you think of the award winners or even the show itself, the event was marked by “two-screen viewing“—that is, simultaneous use of television and social media to enhance the experience.  As more and more people communicate in real time, networks and advertisers are trying to figure out how to capitalize on the phenomenon, which inserts a hyper-fast element into slower-paced programming, something about which Oscar viewers on Twitter repeatedly wrote.  Oscar producers, take note: better make it more snappy next year, or run the risk of losing your audience whose expectations have been raised for better performance via social media.

Moving from Hollywood to Wall Street, a similar message could be directed to corporate accountability and sustainability advocates.  Like check-writing in an electronic banking world, or cassette tapes versus MP3 technology, the use of shareholder resolutions to change corporate behavior now seems slow and musty—particularly with other modes of activism toppling political regimes, from Tunisia to Tripoli.  Yet shareholder democracy – which requires participation, accountability, and representation – is essential to keeping markets honest and efficient, as governance guru Nell Minow (also known as “Movie Mom“) wrote last week in bnet.com.

So how can proxy proponents and others calling for better company / shareholder engagement, like their Oscar telecast brethren, keep up in the digital age as they press for improved corporate accountability and performance—now backed by new laws and regulations requiring both? (continue reading… )

 

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