Diversity, equity and inclusion (DE&I) has received unprecedented support in the past year, and trends show that it is here to stay at the forefront of focus areas for corporations and key stakeholders alike.
Continue Reading Diversity Issues Remain at Center Stage, and the Show Is Just Getting Started

On November 8, 2021, New York Governor Kathy Hochul signed legislation to permanently amend provisions of the NY Business Corporation Law to allow companies to use electronic means to document action by written consent by boards and to hold virtual shareholder meetings, unless such action is prohibited by the entity’s articles of organization or by-laws. As discussed in our prior post, Governor Cuomo issued two Executive Orders: the first, March 7 Executive Order No. 202, declared a disaster emergency and ceased operations of all non-essential businesses in New York state; and the second, March 20th Executive Order No. 202.8, temporarily suspended several regulations governing meetings at New York corporations. Absent this relief, New York state still required an in-person shareholder meeting be held, although following an October 2019 rule change, it also permitted a virtual component (subject to certain conditions).
Continue Reading Virtual Shareholder Meetings now Permanently Permitted in NY

On November 3, 2021, the Division of Corporation Finance of the SEC (the “Staff”) issued Staff Legal Bulletin (“SLB”) No. 14L, which rescinds SLBs Nos. 14I, 14J and 14K, all of which provided guidance with respect to no-action letter requests that sought relief from the Staff to exclude shareholder proposals on the basis of Rule 14a-8(i)(7) and Rule 14a-8(i)(5).  SLB No. 14L also provides guidance on (i) certain technical exclusions, (ii) the use of graphics and images in proposals and (iii) the use of email between proponents and companies.
Continue Reading SEC Provides New Guidance on Shareholder Proposals – Likely To Limit Companies’ Ability To Exclude Environmental and Social Proposals

Diversity has long been a focus for both companies and stakeholders, but 2020 in particular saw diversity come to the forefront of stakeholders’ agendas. Against the backdrop of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and its disparate impacts on human capital, alongside increased focus on racial equity and justice and related unrest, we have seen key players across the board push to broaden the scope and impact of diversity issues in the corporate space.
Continue Reading Emphasis on Diversity Initiatives Broadens in Scope and Focuses on Impact

Late last week – for the first time in 40 years – the SEC announced a settlement of an internal controls case against an issuer arising from its repurchase of its own shares. The SEC found that Andeavor bought back $250 million of stock without first engaging in an adequate process to ensure that the

On August 26, the SEC revised several disclosure requirements applicable to reporting companies. The amendments embrace a “principles-based” approach in the hope that it will elicit more focused and useful disclosures.  They will also require issuers to focus on human capital disclosures and on the organization of risk factor disclosures, and some will have to

On July 23, 2020, The Conference Board and Cleary Gottlieb Steen & Hamilton LLP hosted a panel discussion on the 2020 proxy season highlights and trends, including the impact of COVID-19 on the 2020 proxy season and offseason engagement. The panelists were Francesca L. Odell, Partner, Cleary Gottlieb, Helena K. Grannis, Counsel, Cleary Gottlieb and Rick E. Hansen, Assistant General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, General Motors Company. The panel was moderated by Paul Washington, Executive Director, ESG Center, The Conference Board.
Continue Reading Cleary Gottlieb Participates in Panel Discussion on Highlights of the 2020 Proxy Season

Three recently filed shareholder derivative lawsuits contain intentionally provocative allegations that, despite public statements emphasizing the importance of diversity within their respective organizations, the boards and executive management teams of Oracle, Facebook, and Qualcomm remain largely white and male, and have failed to deliver on their commitments to diversity.  While calls to strengthen commitments to

On July 10, 2020, the Securities and Exchange Commission (the “SEC”) proposed changes that would substantially reduce the number of investors required to file quarterly reports showing their holdings of U.S.-listed equities on Form 13F. The SEC’s proposal would increase the 13F reporting threshold 35 fold — from $100 million to $3.5 billion — and

This is an updated version of our prior post to address Governor Cuomo’s most recent Executive Orders.

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Governor Cuomo declared a disaster emergency and ceased operation of all non-essential businesses in New York state with the March 7 Executive Order 202 and its successor Executive Orders.  In particular, the March 20th Executive Order 202.8 provided temporary suspension of several state law regulatory requirements, including with respect to shareholder meetings of New York corporations.
Continue Reading UPDATE: Cuomo Executive Order Gives New York Corporations Relief on Physical Annual Meetings