“Diversity" and the Prevelence of "Old White Men" at Shareholder Meetings
In our last issue we predicted that “diversity” would be a hot topic during the 2017 Meeting Season, and we are indeed happy to see a much overdue and much increasing focus here.
We noted the new initiatives at State Street, and at several of the public pension funds - and many of the proxy statements we’ve seen to date have greatly sharpened their disclosures regarding ‘diversity programs’ at all levels of the company
We were especially pleased to see a new initiative at Facebook - where they are asking their outside law firms to have at least 33% of the talent assigned to them to be women - and we got a good chuckle out of it, since Facebook itself is far behind in terms of its own goals for hiring and promoting women, since, women are still greatly under-represented in the labor pool at high-tech companies, as they are at many law firms.
But when it comes to diversity on the corporate governance scene, and especially at Shareholder Meetings, your editor can say this bluntly, since he is one himself: The vast majority of Inspectors of Election at Shareholder Meetings are “old white men”…as are the majority of the outside lawyers we typically work with, to tell the whole truth.
So, while we normally don’t tout our own services in the OPTIMIZER, please permit us to brag a bit about our own Team of Inspectors at CT Hagberg LLC: Currently, 22 of our 47 Inspectors are women. (It was 24 of 48 last year, until two of our Inspectors took sabbaticals to travel the world.) And ouch, another of our star Inspectors now is teaching at a law school full time.
Of the 25 men on active duty this year, only 15 are “old white men” - using your editor’s yardstick of 67 ½ years of age to qualify for the title - although all of them are quick-witted, young-at-heart and still pretty quick on their feet in every way.
It’s been no small trick to find not just diverse Inspectors but the many relative youngsters in our group, since it takes a long while for most folks to gain the expertise one needs to have. And yes, like at old-school law firms and old-time transfer agents, women were often not at the head of the line for such prominent assignments. In a field that has historically been populated mainly by “old white men,” we are especially proud to have 22 women, two African Americans, two Asian Americans and one Hispanic person on our Team - and we are 100% committed to increasing the ‘diversity’ of our Team going forward.
So, dear readers - and especially those of you with late-season meetings - it is not too late to check out our Team of Inspectors at www.inspectors-ofelection.com - with a view toward maybe adding diversity to your lineup of meeting officials. And if you know of anyone who fits our need for superior expertise and a calm and cool countenance where shareholder meetings are concerned - and where diversity in age, gender and ethnicity is considered a plus - and where white hair is valued too for the gravitas it often adds - please let us know.