The Power of Proxy Voting
Tuesday, June 01, 2021
Late spring is proxy season. It’s when the majority of US-based companies hold their Annual General Meetings, which provide a forum for investors to vote on issues and ask questions of management. These gatherings are, increasingly, sites of newsworthy and strategy-shifting watershed moments.
In one remarkable recent example, you may have read about a contested election at ExxonMobil, a major energy company. Shareholders largely supported some director nominees that the company opposed, sending a strong message of investor dissatisfaction with the current board and company strategy, particularly as it relates to climate.
Corporate watchers and many stakeholders know that the annual meeting format provides an opportunity for investors. Investors can send a message of support or opposition by voting on management proposals and bring concerns or new issues to the attention of the company and other shareholders by filing and voting on shareholder proposals.
Roughly speaking, for most public companies: shareholders oversee the Board, the Board oversees the CEO, and the CEO oversees the company. We believe that investors have an important role to play with companies in creating a sustainable, equitable, and profitable market. That is why Miller/Howard takes the active voting of proxy ballots so seriously. We look at each proposal and vote based on our ESG-aligned Proxy Voting Policy, which intends to prioritize the interests of our clients.
Where can you learn more?
ExxonMobil (XOM) was not held in any Miller/Howard strategies as of May 31, 2021.
Nicole Lee provides operational and strategic leadership to Miller/Howard’s ESG team. Nicole’s ESG research on portfolio holdings and candidates is integral to the firm’s investment process. Prior to joining the firm in 2014, she worked for several years as a clinic coordinator and educator for a nonprofit health organization, during which time she also developed and conducted training programs at two local universities. Nicole received a BS in Sociology from Southern Utah University, after which she studied public health at Westminster College in Utah.