General Electric, which repeatedly ranks among Fortune’s 50 most admired firms, included a novel element in its March 14 proxy: a four-page ‘proxy summary’ stating the annual meeting’s agenda, the company’s board nominees and ‘a brief description of the form and terms on each principal compensation component’, among other things.
The proxy is drawing some positive reactions.
‘It did two smart and readily emulated things,’ says Ron Schneider, senior vice president of Phoenix Advisory Partners. ‘First, while providing all the SEC’s required disclosure, [GE] condensed and moved forward discussion of the most-hunted for hot button issues, which, when investors don’t easily find them, cause them either to not vote or wait to receive and review third-party proxy adviser condensations and interpretations. Second, it also very effectively highlighted and reminded investors of certain of [the firm’s] governance best practices which it wants investors to give it credit for.’
‘As we enter a watershed proxy season, this is exactly the type of progressive and innovative thinking that is right for the times. GE is to be commended for the initiative.’