ISS’ Global Voting Principles, launched in December 2013, provide for four key tenets on accountability, stewardship, independence, and transparency, which underlie our approach to developing recommendations on management and shareholder proposals at publicly traded companies. The principles guide our work to assist institutional investors in meeting their fiduciary requirements, with respect to voting, by promoting long-term shareholder value creation and risk mitigation at their portfolio firms through support of responsible global corporate governance practices.

These practices should respect shareholder rights and provide appropriate transparency, taking into account relevant laws, customs, and best practice codes of each market and region, as well as the right and responsibility of shareholders to make informed voting decisions. These tenets comprise the core principles that apply globally within our voting framework.

Accountability

  • Boards should be accountable to shareholders, the owners of the companies, by holding regular board elections, by providing sufficient information for shareholders to be able to assess directors and board composition, and by providing shareholders with the ability to remove directors.
  • Directors should respond to investor input such as that expressed through vote results on management and shareholder proposals and other shareholder communications.

Shareholders should have meaningful rights on structural provisions, such as approval of or amendments to the corporate governing documents and a vote on takeover defenses. In addition, shareholders’ voting rights should be proportional to their economic interest in the company; each share should have one vote. In general, a simple majority vote should be required to change a company’s governance provisions or to approve transactions.

Stewardship

  • A company’s governance, social, and environmental practices should meet or exceed the standards of its market regulations and general practices and should take into account relevant factors that may impact significantly the company’s long-term value creation. Issuers and investors should recognize constructive engagement as both a right and responsibility.

Independence

  • Boards should be sufficiently independent so as to ensure that they are able and motivated to effectively supervise management’s performance and remuneration, for the benefit of all shareholders. Boards should include an effective independent leadership position and sufficiently independent committees that focus on key governance concerns such as audit, compensation, and the selection and evaluation of directors.

Transparency

  • Companies should provide sufficient and timely information that enables shareholders to understand key issues, make informed vote decisions, and effectively engage with companies on substantive matters that impact shareholders’ long-term interests in the company.

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