Stewardship Activity Report: Q1 2018

Fearless Girl’s Impact: One Year of Action
International Women’s Day on March 8, 2018, marked the one-year anniversary of State Street’s Fearless Girl campaign that began with us placing a statue of a girl near Wall Street in order to bring attention to the lack of women on corporate boards. We issued a call to action to over 700 companies in the US, UK and Australia to add at least one woman to their board, failing which, we would take voting action against directors on the board.

Board Accountability in Europe
In a recent paper, we affirmed our belief that board accountability is fundamental to strong corporate governance. Furthermore, annual director elections provide increased accountability and encourage board members to be more responsive to shareholder interests thereby improving board quality. Without annual elections, no matter how dissatisfied shareholders are, they may have to wait several years to hold board members accountable.

Changes for the Upcoming 2018 Proxy Season

SSGA Introduces Screens to Monitor Compliance with Corporate Governance Principles
In a March 2018 letter to S&P 500 boards, SSGA’s Chief Investment Officer, Richard Lacaille, called on board chairs and lead directors at S&P 500 companies to report their compliance with the governance principles put forth by the Investor Stewardship Group (ISG). The six corporate governance principles3, which are based on the commonalities of the public proxy voting guidelines of the founding ISG members, including SSGA, went into effect in January 2018. The principles establish common investor expectations regarding the corporate governance structures and practices of companies publicly listed in the US.

Transparency in Pay Evaluation: Adoption of Abstain as a Vote Option on Management Pay Resolutions

Beginning with the 2018 proxy season, SSGA will exercise 'Abstain' as a vote option, in addition to the use of ‘For’ and ‘Against’ vote options, on management compensation resolutions. Going forward we will use an ‘Abstain’ vote, in situations where we cannot provide unqualified support for compensation proposals or where companies have responded to some but not all of our concerns on pay. This change will apply to all markets SSGA invests in globally where ‘Abstain’ is a valid vote option.

SSGA’s Engagement Approach to Civilian Firearm Companies

In February 2018, SSGA announced we will be engaging with publicly listed civilian weapons manufacturers and distributors to seek greater transparency from them on the ways that they support the safe and responsible use of their products and we will also seek to ensure that any shareholder resources used to influence legislation and regulations, or fund other advocacy efforts is consistent with the company’s public views.

Regulatory Activities

SSGA Response to the Financial Reporting Council’s (FRC) Consultation on the ‘Proposed Revisions to the UK Corporate Governance Code’

The FRC issued its long-awaited consultation on the UK Corporate Governance Code to seek investor feedback. In February 2018 SSGA submitted its response to the FRC. The full response is available here.

 

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Stewardship Contacts:

Rakhi Kumar
Senior Managing Director,
Head of ESG Investments and Asset Stewardship
rakhi_kumar@ssga.com
+1 617 664 5556

Robert Walker
Managing Director,
Head of EMEA Asset Stewardship
robert_walker@ssga.com
+44 (0)20 3395 6760

Matt DiGuiseppe
Vice President,
Head of Americas Asset Stewardship
matthew_diguiseppe@ssga.com
+1 617 664 5056

Disclosure

The whole or any part of this work may not be reproduced, copied or transmitted or any of its contents disclosed to third parties without SSGA’s express written consent.

The information provided does not constitute investment advice and it should not be relied on as such. It should not be considered a solicitation to buy or an offer to sell a security. It does not take into account any investor’s particular investment objectives, strategies, tax status or investment horizon. You should consult your tax and financial advisor.

All material has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. There is no representation or warranty as to the accuracy of the information and State Street shall have no liability for decisions based on such information.

The views expressed in this material are the views of Rakhi Kumar through the period ended March 31, 2018 and are subject to change based on market and other conditions and are subject to change based on market and other conditions. This document contains certain statements that may be deemed forward-looking statements. Please note that any such statements are not guarantees of any future performance and actual results or developments may differ materially from those projected.

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ID12914-2112323.1.1.GBL.RTL 0518 Exp. Date: 05/31/2019