Do you want to help push corporations to be more responsible? You have a timely and simple way to do this – shareholder voting.
It is not only time to vote in the US Midterm elections. It is also time to vote in annual shareholder meetings of corporations. If you own stocks in a company, you earn the right to vote in an annual meeting.
I recently received an email stating that it is time to vote in the Microsoft (MSFT) annual shareholder meeting. For this blog post, I will focus on the shareholder meeting for Microsoft because:
1) The company takes seriously its environmental, social, and governance (ESG) goals, particularly in terms of climate goals. It also must continue to progress.
2) The breadth of shareholder proposals being voted on is impressive and worth highlighting.
The Items of Business being voted on for the Microsoft Annual Shareholder Meeting start with the fairly standard (and, sometimes, mundane) management proposals:
- Election of board directors
- Approval of compensation for executive officers
- Ratification of the independent auditor (yawn, I know, but I promise it will get more interesting).
Then things begin to get a bit spicier. There are six shareholder proposals put forward by a shareholder that you, as a shareholder, get to vote on. It is here that you have the power to help make Microsoft a more socially responsible company.
Shareholder proposals for the 2022 Microsoft Annual Shareholder Meeting include:
- Diversity, equity, and inclusion reporting: issue a public report prior to December 31, 2022, omitting confidential and privileged information and at a reasonable expense, detailing a cost vs. benefits analysis of Microsoft’s Global Diversity & Inclusion efforts. A summation of this report should subsequently be included in the next annual update of Microsoft’s Global Diversity & Inclusion Report.
- Fair chance employment: prepare a report analyzing whether Microsoft hiring practices related to people with arrest or incarceration records are aligned with publicly stated DEI (diversity, equity, and inclusion), racial equity, or criminal justice reform goals, and other public statements such as the Fair Chance Business Pledge. The report, prepared at reasonable cost and omitting proprietary information and published publicly within one year, is recommended to evaluate the risk of discrimination, including racial discrimination, that may result from failure to implement targeted fair chance employment practices.
- Climate change risk in 401(k) plans: provide a report assessing how the Company’s 401(k) retirement funds manage the growing systemic risk to the economy created by investing retirement plan funds in companies contributing significantly to climate change.
- Defense customer use of Microsoft technology: commission an independent report to assess whether governmental customer use of Microsoft’s technology, including defense contract use, does or can contribute to violations of privacy, civil and human rights, and conflicts with the policies and principles set forth in Microsoft’s CSR Report and other public disclosures.
- Involvement with development of weapons: issue an independent, third-party report, at reasonable expense and excluding proprietary information, to assess the reputational and financial risks to the company for being identified as a company involved in the development of weapons used by the military for training and/or combat purposes.
- Tax transparency: Directors issue a tax transparency report to shareholders, at reasonable expense and excluding confidential information, prepared in consideration of the indicators and guidelines set forth in the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) Tax Standard.
For further information, read the Microsoft 2022 Proxy Statement. Shareholder voting information can be found below.
In advance of the December 13, 2022 meeting:
- Vote your shares at proxyvote.com. Have your Notice of Internet Availability or proxy card for the 16-digit Control Number needed to vote.
- Call toll-free number 1-800-690-6903.
- Sign, date, and return the proxy card or voting instruction form.
During the meeting:
For details on shareholder voting during the meeting visit proxyvote.com.