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Boardroom Accountability with NYC Pension Funds

April 25, 2017  
By Stephanie West

New York, NY - New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer and the New York City Pension Funds  have negotiated meaningful proxy access bylaws with 50 companies, bringing the total number that have embraced this reform to more than 400 in just three years.

Agreements announced are with both major S&P 500 companies like Texas Instruments, Phillips 66, Consolidated Edison, and Marsh & McLennan and smaller companies such as VeriFone Systems and Diebold.

The announcement reflects the success of the Boardroom Accountability Project, which seeks to ensure that corporate boards in the U.S. are diverse, climate-competent, and able to create long-term value by making proxy access — the ability of large, long-term shareowners to nominate board directors on a company’s ballot — a market standard. When the Project launched in the fall of 2014, only six U.S. companies had meaningful proxy access. Today, more than 400 companies do, including 58% of the S&P 500.

“Over the past few years, we’ve done groundbreaking work to advocate for diverse and climate-competent boards, as well as to hold boards accountable for excessive CEO pay. When shareowners are given a voice, companies do better — and when companies do better, our retirees win. This advocacy is working, and it’s making corporate boards more accountable,” New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer said. “The Boardroom Accountability Project has taken off because investors want to have a say in who oversees the companies they own. In just three years, we’ve seen a sea change — and proxy access has quickly become a market standard.”

In each of the past three years, the New York City Pension Funds have targeted approximately 75 companies that have little or no board diversity, excessive CEO pay, or that face real risks related to climate change. In 2017, the focus list was expanded to include companies like National Oilwell Varco, which have little or no C-Suite diversity, and Marin Marietta Materials, which have failed to adequately disclose their greenhouse gas emissions.

Comptroller Stringer serves as the investment advisor to, and custodian and a trustee of, the New York City Pension Funds. The New York City Pension Funds are composed of the New York City Employees’ Retirement System, Teachers’ Retirement System, New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the Board of Education Retirement System.

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