Thursday, May 22, 2008

How to Change Corporations by Informed Voting

I originally designed voter-funded media to reform corporations, and spent years promoting the idea to institutional investors. I have not yet gained enough of their support to implement it, in the face of the expected opposition from boards of directors. Instead, I’ve been sponsoring implementations in democracies.

But now a new organization called ProxyDemocracy is pushing ahead with some of my ideas for informed voting of corporate shares. (I’m on their board.) Focused mainly on American corporations and mutual funds, it lets you compare funds’ voting records, and choose funds with voting styles you agree with. For example, you can look at voting on environmental issues, executive compensation, corporate governance etc. You can also get email notifications if you want to copy their decisions when you vote shares you own as an individual.

This increased transparency and competition should help improve the quality of voting decisions by funds and individuals, thus making corporate management more accountable to shareowners and the public.

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