Power to the people

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The annual shareholder meeting used to resemble a cheerleading competition — with executives and investors alike shaking those corporate pom-poms. But these days many such meetings look more like protest rallies — with shareholders, issuing demands and forcing votes on resolutions on everything from how a company invests its money, to how it picks and how much it pays its executives.

Shareholder activists say that they’re fed up with corporate scandals and want a greater say in shaping company policy. Most of these resolutions are non-binding and executives are free to ignore them, but – post-Enron – they do so at their peril. At the same time, some executives are pushing back, arguing that CEOs know best – and that shareholders should stop meddling.


Nick Rossi, shareholder activist. Richard Bliss, Associate Professor of Finance at Babson College

Tracey Rembert, co-ordinator for advocay and public policy programs at the Social Investment Forum