Does the Adoption of Say-on-Pay Laws Affect Firms’ ESG Performance?

Can investors successfully advocate for improved ESG outcomes at their portfolio companies? We examine whether the introduction of say-on-pay (SOP) laws provides investors with a way to increase the extent to which executive compensation is tied to ESG metrics and whether doing so, in turn, improves a firm’s ESG performance.

Surveys have found that investors value firms’ commitment to sustainability and social issues.  For example, a recent survey of 325 investors internationally by PwC found that 79 percent of investors agreed with the statement, “ESG risks are an important factor in investment decision-making” (The Economic Realities of ESG, … Read more

Say-on-Pay Voting and CEO Compensation Structure

Since the financial crisis, much of the business  media have focused on the level of CEO compensation and how much it increases from the prior year, often calling out the CEOs with the highest pay. These articles in the New York Times and Fortune are good examples. Concerns about pay levels provided at least some of the impetus for the adoption of mandatory but non-binding say-on-pay voting in the United States, beginning at 2011 annual meetings for large public companies. These say-on-pay votes allow investors to express their opinions about a company’s executive compensation. Prior research supports the idea that … Read more