Companies brace for more sustainability resolutions

Environmental and social themes will headline shareholder proposals during the 2012 corporate annual meeting season.
Written by Heather Clancy, Contributor

Ernst & Young is predicting another record season for shareholder resolutions related to environmental and social issues as many public companies prepare for their annual meetings.

There were a record number of such resolutions in 2011 -- these issues made up 40 percent of all shareholder resolutions considered, and that's not counting the proposals that were withdrawn after corporate boards and managers resolved some of these issues privately or behind closed doors.

In its latest report on this issue, "Leading corporate sustainability issues in the 2012 proxy season," Ernst & Young identifies five themes that are likely to headline many of the anticipated proposals.

  1. Any ties or perceived ties to organizations that focus on environmental issues, such as greenhouse gas emissions reductions
  2. Companies in the business of energy, may find their energy extraction practices scrutinized. (One of the biggest focuses for proposals in 2011 was hydraulic fracturing.)
  3. Reporting and public disclosure policies related to sustainability initiatives or greenhouse gas emissions reductions programs.
  4. Corporate diversity issues, especially those related to gender identity or sexual orientation.
  5. Reduction policies related to operational safety and accident risk reduction policies. (The Fukushima nuclear plant debacle has got many people thinking about these issues.)

(Thumbnail image by Nick Benjaminsz, courtesy of Stock.xchng)

Related stories:

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

Editorial standards