President-elect Barack Obama today was urged by an institutional investor group to allow shareholders to submit proxy proposals seeking better disclosure of the financial impact to companies of climate change, social, or other business risks.
The SEC has allowed companies to exclude shareholder proposals seeking such financial risk disclosure, according to Sanford Lewis, attorney to the Investor Environmental Health Network, a member of a coalition of institutional investors that sent the nine-page letter to Mr. Obama.
Shareholders can ask (in proxy proposals) what efforts a company is doing to resolve the impact (of such concerns), Mr. Lewis said in an interview, but they cant ask how the issue is affecting the company financially, which is the information investors are most interested in. The SEC has cut off information that is of greatest interest to investors to help to them make investing decisions.
In the letter, the shareholders asked Mr. Obama to help them achieve the ability to use the shareholder resolution process to probe these issues on a company by company basis. We urge you to ask the Securities and Exchange Commission and relevant congressional oversight bodies to reexamine these issues within the first 100 days of your new administration.
The New York City comptrollers office, which oversees the $105 billion New York City Retirement Systems, is among the signatories to the letter.