What’s New This Proxy Season: Trends At The Halfway Point

We’re about halfway through proxy season—71% of companies in our coverage universe (S&P 1500, Russell 1000) have published their proxy statements, and 13% have had their annual meetings.

Good luck attending all those virtual meetings, as more than half of companies have scheduled their annual meetings on just 10 dates:

  • 5/23: 91
  • 5/15: 75
  • 5/22: 73
  • 5/9: 63
  • 5/16: 62
  • 4/25: 49
  • 5/7: 48
  • 5/2: 47
  • 5/14: 45
  • 5/21: 43

Since the 2021 proxy season, we have been discussing trends in public disclosure of EEO-1 data—the intersectional workforce representation data companies are required to report to the government.

For several years, this was near the top of the leaderboard of shareholder proposals focused on human capital. However, this season we are only seeing a handful as most large companies now make this information available publicly:

  • Over 80% of the S&P 500 now discloses EEO-1 data publicly, up from just over 10% at the end of 2020, with 13 companies disclosing for the first time so far in 2024.
  • Disclosure at Russell 1000 companies has increased from 6% to nearly 50%, and at S&P 1500 companies has gone from under 4% to over 35%.

Another focus of stakeholder attention the last few years has been more detailed disclosure of board diversity characteristics. The baseline expectation is for companies to disclose the minimum required by the Nasdaq ‘comply or explain’ board diversity rule—the aggregate intersectional representation (gender + race/ethnicity) of the board. However, many stakeholders are now pushing for even more granular disclosure, namely self-identification of these characteristics for each individual board member.

DiversIQ’s transparency score for Board of Directors measures whether companies disclose representation across 5 areas, both on an aggregate and individual basis, worth 10 percentage points each:

  • Intersectional (gender + race/ethnicity)
  • Gender
  • Race/ethnicity
  • LGBTQ+
  • Veteran

The average score across our coverage is 43 for companies that have published proxies so far this season, which is flat compared to last year, but up from 38 in 2022 and just 14 in 2020. That translates into most companies are reporting just over 4 of the 10 metrics we are measuring, whereas most were reporting just one in 2020.

Here is a look at the change in the % of companies in our universe reporting each from 2020->2024:

Aggregate: 60%->95%
Individual: 7%->41%

Aggregate: 32%->95%
Individual: 4%->35%

Intersectional (gender + race/ethnicity)
Aggregate: 31%->82%
Individual: 10%->44%

Aggregate: 1%->27%
Individual: 0%->7%

Aggregate: 1%->6%
Individual: 0%->3%

Need human capital data for your planning?