September 10, 2018

More on “An Anti-ESG Campaign Begins”

A few months ago, I blogged that National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) had launched an “anti-ESG campaign.” Now, 45 companies that sit on NAM’s Executive Committee & Board are caught in the middle of that organization’s beef with ESG advocacy. Walden Asset Management & CalSTRS announced that they have led more than 80 investors to write letters that urge the companies to distance themselves from NAM’s effort to limit engagements. Here’s an excerpt:

We believe your company may have a very different perspective than that expressed by MSIC & NAM and that your continued affiliation with them could pose reputational risks to your company. Thus, we urge you, as a member of the leadership team of NAM, to question your Association’s research funding priorities and its working alliance with MSIC. In addition, we are interested in your answers to the following questions about your company’s positions on these issues:

– Are you aware of the new NAM paper and its attack on the efficacy of shareholder resolutions and ESG investing factors?

– What are your views on the priorities and objectives of NAM’s, new partner, Main Street Investors, and its work to discredit shareholder resolutions?

– Will you help clarify for the record and the investing public where the company stands on the right of investors to file shareholder proposals and your thoughts on efforts to significantly limit the ability to present such proposals?

If your company’s position differs from that of the MSIC’s stated mission, we ask the company to communicate with NAM’s management your disagreement with the positions being taken by Main Street Investors and urge NAM to distance itself from these positions. We also request that you state this publicly to inform concerned investors.

Gender Pay Gap: Heightened Employee Focus

Here’s something I recently blogged on’s “The Advisors Blog”: We’ve blogged about how activist shareholders increasingly want companies to disclose how they analyze & address gender pay inequity – and about mandatory gender pay reporting for companies with a UK presence. But companies also need to prepare for employee questions. A new Pearl Meyer survey shows that 62% of companies are – or expect to be – fielding gender pay questions from their workforce. Some think that the #MeToo movement has been the “tipping point” to elevate discussions that have been brewing for years.

The survey also shows that employee understanding of pay practices is mediocre at best. Only 8% of respondents believe the quality of their pay communications is “excellent.” Here’s some other key findings:

– In the last two years, almost half of the companies surveyed (48%) have increased compensation communication

– A majority of companies (52%) don’t share information about base salary ranges with all employees

– About two-thirds of managers are trained to have formal compensation conversations with their direct reports, but the majority (70%) of those surveyed believe those conversations are not effective

– Less than a quarter of respondents believe employees can appropriately compare their compensation to colleagues (21%) or compare their compensation to similar positions in other organizations (22%)

– Of the 62% who are or expect to receive questions about gender pay equity, a majority have clear and detailed information ready to share or are currently drafting their responses.

Perks: “If You’ll Be My Bodyguard”

And here’s something else that I recently blogged on’s “The Advisors’ Blog”: I can only speculate about what it’s like to be a VIP tech CEO. One part that doesn’t sound too appealing is having a personal security detail. Because if someone is attacking Mark Zuckerberg, they’re probably after more than his $350 t-shirt. But if there’s a bright side, it’s that you don’t have to pay your bodyguards out of your own pocket – they’re pricey! This article looks at how much a few well-known companies spend on security & travel for high-profile executives – and how they describe those “perks” in their proxy statements:

1. Facebook – $7.3 million for CEO security & $1.5 million for CEO use of private aircraft ($2.7 million for COO)
2. Amazon – $1.6 million for CEO business & travel security
3. Oracle – $1.5 million for Executive Chair home security ($104k & $0 for the co-CEOs)
4. Salesforce – $1.3 million for CEO security
5. Google – $636k for CEO security and $48k for CEO use of chartered aircraft
6. Apple – $224k for CEO security and $93k for air travel
7. Qualcomm – $138k for Chair’s “insurance premiums, security & home office” and $153k for Chair use of corporate aircraft
8. IBM – $178k for CEO use of corporate aircraft

A member emailed to point out that there’s a reason security is expensive:

I met an executive’s bodyguard once. Former cop & one of the friendliest, most down to earth people I’ve ever met. He was very devoted to the executive, for whom he’d worked for nearly 30 years. However, it was also clear to me that this guy knew 6 ways to kill you with a paper napkin.

Remember that our recently-updated “Executive Compensation Disclosure Treatise” has a chapter devoted to perks – with comprehensive guidance on disclosure of airplane use & personal security, among other topics.

Liz Dunshee