Democratizing the SEC — to Address Sustainability

Sea Change Radio Host Bill Baue talks with Adam Kanzer of Domini Social Investments about the new SEC Investor Advisory Committee, on which he represents the socially responsible investing (SRI) community.  SEC Chairman Mary Schapiro established the committee as one of her first initiatives after taking the helm of the Commission in 2009.  In the NewsAnalysis, Sea Change Headlines Anchor Tania Haldar Hart discusses conservative backlash against the interpretive guidance the SEC recently issued on requirements for companies to disclose risks from climate change.

The SEC Investor Advisory Committee met for the third time on February 22, when it considered agenda items on proxy voting transparency and a work plan for disclosure of environmental, social, and governance (or ESG) issues, as well as some unscheduled discussion of the significance of the January Supreme Court decision  in the Citizens United case that opened the door to unlimited corporate contributions to political campaigns.

IAC committee member Adam Kanzer started off the interview with some background on the Investor Advisory Committee: when it was born, and what its mandate is.  He then went on to discuss the workplan on ESG disclosure that the Investor as Owner Subcommittee outlined.

In the second half of the interview, Bill opened up the issue of the Supreme Court decision in the Citizens United case by quoting corporate governance guru Bob Monks: “The bad news is that Citizens United represents the worst judicial decision since Dred Scott; the good news is that the Supreme Court of the United States has held that there is such a thing as corporate democracy.  Now is the time for shareholders to put that democracy to work to protect their own interests….” Bill asked Adam for his take on the Citizens United decision, and ways in which the Investor Advisory Committee might weigh in on it.

Kanzer urged concerned citizens and investors to submit comments to the SEC Investor Advisory Committee.