Last month, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission issued a proposal to enhance and standardize disclosure requirements related to cybersecurity incident reporting and cybersecurity risk management, strategy, and governance. Among other changes, the SEC’s proposal would require disclosure about material cybersecurity incidents within four business days and require annual disclosure regarding a registrant’s policies and

Robust interest in ESG-related matters and growing demands from shareholders, regulators and various other stakeholders during 2021 have put management and boards of public companies firmly on notice that strong ESG policies, practices and commitments are key components to long-term organizational success, business resiliency and value creation.
Continue Reading Key Practices for Board Organization and Oversight of ESG

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

Over the past few years, many boards have expanded their oversight and consideration of human capital management (HCM) to encompass issues beyond executive hiring and compensation. Before the COVID-19 pandemic, technology and the culture change brought by a new generation of workers had already commenced an irreversible shift in paradigm that established HCM as a board-level issue with vital strategic and risk oversight implications.
Continue Reading Fulfilling the Board’s Expanded Oversight Role in Human Capital Management

The focus on environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters at public companies continues to grow despite, or perhaps in part because of, the COVID-19 pandemic. ESG continues to mean many things, including company considerations around sustainability, diversity, human capital, corporate purpose and governance. While best practices, disclosure requirements and ESG ratings are developing, boards should continue to prioritize ESG issues, particularly as they relate to long-term company strategy and risk.
Continue Reading Increased ESG Focus Shows No Signs of Slowing Down in 2021

On September 23, the SEC voted 3-2 to amend certain of the procedural requirements for the inclusion of shareholder proposals in a company’s proxy statement under Exchange Act Rule 14a-8. The amendments were adopted substantially as proposed in November 2019, except for the so-called “momentum” provision, which would have permitted companies to exclude shareholder proposals

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

For more than a decade, the SEC has been wrestling with whether and how to regulate the activities of the proxy advisory firms – principally ISS and Glass Lewis – that have come to play such an important role in shareholder voting at U.S. public companies.  On July 22, 2020, the SEC adopted rules 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