DLS Consulting

Could You Be An Activist?

Voting proxies a certain way hardly qualifies as an act of some rebel force bent on destroying capitalism. But the fact that most people don’t care whether they vote at all is an even greater indictment of shareholder indifference. We have arrived at this point because shareholders believe that their votes have no meaning and will not count even if they are cast with careful and thoughtful diligence. Those beliefs are not totally groundless as corporate governance and oversight from the point of view of the shareholders has been sorely lacking for some time.

There is a movement starting to have shareholder input on executive compensation. This has been the exclusive realm of the board appointed compensation committee that too often finds its members consisting of other board members who are closely aligned with the top executives. This group usually finds a way to give away huge sums of money that belongs to the shareholders in the name of retaining top talent and rewarding superior performance. There is little in the way to justify that either the amounts are commensurate with performance, or that retention was actually realized or desirable.

Along comes the movement known as “Say on Pay”! This movement offers a non-binding vote by shareholders on the compensation plans being proposed by management. Naturally, management doesn’t even want your opinion, so they suggest you reject all such proposals. I am suggesting just the opposite! If any of your proxies coming your way give you a chance to vote in favor of “Say on Pay” or some such wording that sounds like “Advisory Vote on Executive Compensation”; “Shareholder Vote on Executive Compensation”… VOTE FOR IT!!!

Oh, but you don’t want to be an “activist”? Try it, you might like it! Let’s take baby steps together and see if this really could lead to some changes that are long overdue.

Matthew 5:13-16 (NIV) “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.”

Monday Morning Message Sent 4/13/09


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