Current Pay Governance Viewpoints

  • California Legislates Gender Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom

    By John R. Ellerman

    During the last week of September 2018, Governor Jerry Brown signed a law mandating public companies headquartered in California must have at least one female member on their board of directors by December 31, 2019. Further, companies with less than six members on the board will be required to have at least two female directors by the end of 2021, and companies with six or more directors will be required to have at least three female directors by the end of 2021. The legislation, referred to as SB-826, is in direct response to legislators and regulators who have found women to be underrepresented on public company boards. The Board of Governance Research LLC, in a 2017 study of Russell 3000 companies headquartered in California, found that more than 25 percent of the 441 reported companies had no female directors. Read More

  • SEC Takes Back Comfort Letters Provided to Two Proxy Advisory Firms

    By John R. Ellerman

    In 2004, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) Division of Investment Management issued letters to two proxy advisory firms, Egan-Jones Proxy Services and Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS), that assured mutual fund managers they could rely on the vote recommendations of the two firms. On September 13, 2018, the SEC Investment Management staff decided to rescind the two letters. Read More

  • IRS Issues Section 162(m) Guidance

    By Bentham W. Stradley and John R. Ellerman

    Section 162(m) was added to the Internal Revenue Code (IRC) in 1994 in what was seen as a reaction to escalating executive pay. Commonly referred to as the “$1 million pay cap,” Section 162(m) denied subject companies the corporate tax deduction for compensation paid to the CEO (referred to as the Principal Executive Officer or PEO) and other proxy-named executive officers (NEOs) that exceeded the $1 million statutory limitation. Exceptions to the amount of covered compensation pursuant to Section 162(m) were permitted if such compensation was deemed “performance-based” under shareholder-approved plans. Read More

  • A Proposed Legislative Alternative to Corporate Governance and the Theory of Shareholder Primacy

    By John R. Ellerman and Ira T. Kay

    On August 15, 2018, U.S. Senator Elizabeth Warren of Massachusetts introduced proposed legislation, the Accountable Capitalism Act, in the U.S. Senate. The legislation would require all U.S. corporations with $1 billion or more in annual revenues to obtain a federal charter as a “United States corporation” and would obligate corporate directors to consider the interests of all corporate stakeholders in their corporate governance activities. Read More

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