As part of the SBA’s mission to invest, manage and safeguard the assets of its various mandates, the SBA plays a vital role in supporting initiatives to ensure that public companies meet high standard s of independent and ethical corporate governance. The SBA acts as a strong advocate on behalf of FRS members and beneficiaries, retirees and other clients to strengthen shareowner rights and promote leading corporate governance practices at U.S. and international companies in which the SBA holds stock. The SBA’s corporate governance activities are focused on enhancing share value and ensuring that public companies are accountable to their shareowners, with independent boards of directors, transparent disclosure, accurate financial reporting, ethical business practices and policies that protect and enhance the value of SBA investments.
For calendar year 2020, the SBA proxy voting consisted of 10,549 corporate annual meetings. Among all votes there were 104,010 distinct voting items—voting 80.4% “For’’ and 16.7% “Against/Withheld”, with the remaining 2.9% involving abstentions. Of all votes cast, 17.5% percent were “Against” the management-recommended vote. SBA proxy voting was conducted across 78 countries, with the top five countries comprised of the United States (2,803), China (1,485), Japan (1,311), the United Kingdom (389), and South Korea (311). The SBA actively engages portfolio companies throughout the year, addressing corporate governance concerns and seeking opportunities to improve alignment with the interests of our beneficiaries. Highlights from the 2020 proxy season included the continued focus on the lack of board gender diversity, rising support for proposals requesting an independent board chair, and median say-on-pay support levels dropping to their lowest levels ever recorded.