Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has launched its Annual Benchmark Policy Survey signaling potential changes to ISS’s proxy voting policies for 2021. Below we discuss the Global and North American Survey, which highlight the many key corporate governance issues that are top of mind for boards of directors and management today. The Global Survey covers questions relating to maintaining ISS’s COVID-19 guidance, racial and ethnic diversity on boards, executive compensation adjustments in light of the pandemic, oversight of climate change risk, sustainability frameworks, auditor independence and oversight and audit committees, and the annual meeting format. The North America Survey focuses on independent board chairs.
Institutional investors, companies, corporate directors and other market constituents participate in the survey. The survey will close on August 21, 2020, at 5pm ET. ISS will then review the results along with input obtained from investors, company executives, directors and others through its various regional, topic-specific roundtables and conference calls to advise and assist ISS with updating its policies ahead of 2021 annual shareholder meetings. The survey is available here.
ISS typically announces proposed policy changes, including changes resulting from input provided on the survey, and seeks further comment approximately two months after the survey closes and then adopts its final policy changes in mid- to late-November. More information on ISS’s policy development process is available here.