Yesterday, ISS announced its policy updates for next year. Read the policy document. The big news this year is that ISS is ratcheting up the pressure on companies to improve board diversity, and taking a more accommodating approach to exclusive forum bylaws. Here are a couple of excerpts from ISS’s executive summary of the policy changes:
– For 2021, ISS benchmark research reports for companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indexes will highlight boards that lack racial and ethnic diversity (or lack disclosure of such) to help investors identify companies with which they may wish to engage and foster dialogue between investors and companies on this topic.
– For 2022, for companies in the Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 indexes where the board has no apparent racially or ethnically diverse members, ISS will recommend voting against or withhold from the chair of the nominating committee (or other directors on a case-by-case basis).
– Under the new policy, ISS will generally recommend a vote for federal forum selection provisions in the charter or bylaws that specify “the district courts of the United States” as the exclusive forum for federal securities law matters and recommend a vote against provisions that restrict the forum to a particular federal district court.
– Under the updated policy for exclusive forum provisions for state law matters, in the absence of concerns about abuse of the provision or about poor governance more generally, ISS will generally recommend in favor of charter or bylaw provisions designating courts in Delaware as the exclusive forum for state corporate law matters at companies incorporated in that state.
We’ll be posting memos in our “Proxy Advisors” Practice Area.
-John Jenkins, TheCorporateCounsel.net November 13, 2020