Corporate directors have been re-elected this proxy season with an average 95.3% of shareholder support, the highest level of approval in the last five years, according to data from Institutional Shareholder Services.
The reason? Shareholders seem to be redirecting any executive compensation anger to say-on-pay voting and away from compensation committee director voting.
Shareholder pressure seems to be down in other areas, too.
Shareholders have filed 810 proxy proposals so far this year, compared with 962 shareholder proposals in all of last year.
“If you want to sum it up, it's governance grows up,” said Anne Simpson, senior portfolio manager-global equities, of the $235.6 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento.
“We've seen less megaphone diplomacy,” she said. “The overall number of shareholder proposals has fallen. But we've seen a significant increase in real conversation, real dialogue with companies” and shareholders.
Even shareholder irritation at executive pay has been relatively minor as expressed in say-on-pay votes.
Executive compensation has achieved high levels of shareholder support on average in the advisory votes. At 31 companies, shareholders rejected the executive compensation package by a majority vote. That is 1.7% of the 1,836 companies that have reported results as of June 6, according to ISS.