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Shearman & Sterling Releases 2013 Corporate Governance Survey

In its 11th annual corporate governance report, Shearman & Sterling surveyed 100 of the largest US public companies on a wide range of corporate governance practices, including majority voting standards, separation of the CEO and board chairman, and proxy access procedures.

Among other things, the survey shows that 90 of the top 100 public companies have boards with 75% or more independent directors.  In addition, 44 of the 100 have independence standards that are more stringent than the listing standards by the NYSE and NASDAQ would require.  The most common heightened independence standard came in the area of corporate donations to a charity or non-profit organization with which the director is affiliated. 

The survey also focused on implementation of majority voting in uncontested director elections.  Of the 100 companies, 87 have implemented a majority voting standard in uncontested director elections.   89 have adopted mandatory resignation policies for directors who receive more “against” or “withheld” votes than for election.

Additionally, the 2013 survey was the first time Shearman & Sterling focused on women in leadership. The results show that all of the top 100 companies have at least one female director and 90 have at least two women directors.  Women hold about 21% of the total number of board seats.  14 of the top 100 companies have boards composed of more than 30% women board meetings, with two companies have boards made up of 40% or more female directors.

The full copy of the survey report is available here.