Each year, every publicly held company announces the date of its shareholder meeting in its annual proxy statement. These documents can be found on a company’s investor relations page on its website.
Additionally, investors should receive a mailing or email from the company informing them about the meeting, providing links to the proxy statement and annual report, and revealing a control number that allows investors to log in as participants in the meeting. If you have invested in a company and don’t receive one of these, check with the company or with the brokerage in case these were instead sent to the brokerage.
(Note, in order to participate directly, you generally have to own shares in individual companies. If you invest through mutual funds, your investment house may well vote your proxies for you. And if you invest with BlackRock, State Street or Vanguard, among others, they’re probably voting them in direct opposition to your interests. If that’s the case, get in touch with them and demand that they offer investment funds that accord with your interests, or find investment houses that do offer such funds.)
You may also choose to invest in 2nd Vote’s ETFs (exchange traded funds) supporting the First and Second Amendment. You can read more about them here.
Once you have logged into the virtual shareholder meeting with your control number, the exact configuration that will greet you will depend on the company’s services. Most often you will find a box at the bottom right corner of the platform that says “Q&A.” Click the “Q&A” box and a text box will appear, which is where you will type out your question for the CEO and/or board members of that company. Other configurations are similar. Submit the question before the meeting begins to get into the queue early. If your question relates specifically to one of the proposals to be considered at the meeting, indicate that in your question.
As a general rule, it’s a good idea to keep virtually submitted questions fairly short. If you submit a question and it’s either ignored or redrafted to materially change the question’s meaning, complain to the Investor Relations department at the company and, if you’d like, drop us a line to let us know.
When live meetings begin again (and at some companies, they already have), the costs grow, but so do the opportunities. To ask a question at a live meeting, you have to attend it. You do this by letting the company know you intend to attend (instructions will be included in your proxy mailing) and then showing up on the day with a ticket and identification. (You can’t get in without ID, which is useful to remember when you read about companies opposing voter ID laws.) Inside the meeting room there should be one or more microphones set up, or perhaps people carrying microphones. There will surely be ushers. If it’s not clear how to get in line to pose a question, ask one of the ushers. Then get in line as soon as is convenient to make sure that the meeting isn’t over before you get a chance to ask your question.
At live meetings, your opportunity to ask longer and more fully crafted questions is possible, because you get to read the question yourself. But you still almost surely want to keep the question under two minutes.
The best questions focus on specifics and contain specifics, while also tying the critique back to the legitimate duties of the CEO and the board of directors.
If you ask, “Why has our company become racist against whites?” the CEO will probably just answer, “We haven’t. We work to create equity for everyone.” The answer is meaningless, but your question would have set it up that way.
Rather, include specifics and spell out potential consequences. Here’s an example:
In the last year, publications branded with our company’s logo and sent to all employees have instructed that non-white employees must be given safe spaces to share their thoughts about race and demand change. At the same time, the only possible response or participation suggested for white employees in this “dialogue” is to share times in which they have unwittingly been racist, as part of a larger systemic racism which the materials ascribe to all white people. There appears no suggestion that white employees may play any other role, share instances – such as mandatory participation in the very “racial dialogue” activity under discussion – when they have been subjected to racism, or object to any of the radical, highly contentious critical-race and other theories upon which the training and company policy are based. This is disparate treatment on the basis of race. There’s no other way to describe it. It not only micro-aggresses against whites, it violates their civil rights and the U.S. Constitution. It puts our company at immense litigation and reputational risk for the benefit of stoking intense racial resentment that we have largely gotten past in this country. Isn’t all of this a profound violation of your fiduciary duty to shareholders and to the company, and don’t you agree that once the lawsuits start and the company suffers, you and this board should be held personally responsible, and behave accordingly?
Shareholders should receive a proxy ballot in the mail from companies in which they have invested directly. If you have not received one, check with your brokerage. This ballot states the issues up for a vote in the upcoming meeting. Instructions for voting will appear on the ballot. You can vote long before the meeting day, and should, even if you plan to attend the meeting and possibly ask questions, simply because the period allowed for casting final votes on the day of the meeting is fairly short. For recommendations on how to vote, please see FEP’s voting guides, the Investor Value Voter Guide, and Balancing the Boardroom.
Shareholders may submit a proxy proposal through the SEC after holding $2,000 of company stock for at least three years, or higher dollar amounts for shorter periods. The prerequisites can be found here.
We sure do. At the beginning of each week during shareholder meeting season, we send out an email informing subscribers about key proposals to vote for or against in the coming week.
Note that we try to follow most large corporations and the proposals submitted to them, but we certainly miss some, simply because of resource constraints. If you own companies we haven’t considered and become aware of proposals that you think we should support or oppose, please let us know.
We encourage conservative investors to still invest in companies that have gone woke because in doing so, we can actively engage to turn these companies around. However, if investors are looking specifically for investment opportunities that align with conservative values, one group of funds that we are aware of is offered by 2ndVote Funds.
2ndVote scores companies on an ideological scale of liberal, neutral and conservative. It uses this research to include companies in each ETF portfolio that fall under the conservative or neutral categories and that are believed to represent good long-term investments. Its database of companies takes an in-depth, hands-on approach that doesn’t rely on algorithms to scan company filings.
For more information on 2ndVote Funds, visit.
No. The Free Enterprise Project has long advocated against boycotts. They are ineffective, and quite frankly, a waste of time and energy. Many woke corporations are too large and powerful to be negatively affected by a group of consumers deciding not to buy their products and services. You will only be inconveniencing yourself.
That said, there are certainly companies that we find so morally and politically repugnant that we try to avoid spending any money with them. And we encourage people to make their own similar decisions. But sometimes there just aren’t any alternatives, if a whole sector has gone woke. And never assume that by refusing to buy Disney movies or Coke products or Levi’s jeans that you’ve done your duty and made your point. That simply will not do it. That’s the path to ever-increasing surrender to the left.
Rather, we strongly encourage shareholders to actively engage as company owners. The best way to hold these corporations accountable is to engage in annual shareholder meetings, vote their proxies, question business executives during Q&A sessions and vote out board members who have abandoned their fiduciary duties.
We do not have a specific list of companies that have gone woke, considering nearly every major corporation has followed the popular trend leftward. In a similar way to boycotting, refusing to invest is not a sufficient way to fight back. In fact, buying more shares in these companies is a better way of combating corporate wokeism. The more shares conservative investors have in companies, the more powerful our voice is in their decision making. Buy shares and actively engage.
The Free Enterprise Project annually publishes two main resources to help conservative investors navigate the proxy season. The first is the Investor Value Voter Guide (IVVG), which focuses primarily on specific proposals the FEP recommends that shareholders vote or against to improve the corporate environment. The 2021 IVVG can be found here.
Additionally, FEP publishes a sister guide called Balancing the Boardroom (BTB). This document highlights the worst business executives in corporate America and recommends that those officers be voted off various boards of directors. The 2021 BTB can be found here.
The Free Enterprise Project (FEP) focuses on activism against woke corporations. We file shareholder resolutions, engage corporate CEOs and board members at shareholder meetings, petition the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) for interpretative guidance, work with organizations and individuals to roll back the hard-left tide in American corporations and other institutions, and sponsor effective media campaigns to create the incentives for corporations to stay focused on their missions.
Political neutrality is the Free Enterprise Project’s end goal for corporate America. Companies should act in the best interests of their shareholders and the companies’ specific futures, rather than dedicating shareholder assets to the (almost always hard-left) personal political or policy interests of the company’s hired (and highly compensated) executives. All employees should be treated impartially and with dignity regardless of their political viewpoints. Essentially, this means that employees should keep their jobs out of their politics and their politics out of their jobs – or, alternatively, that all employees can bring their politics to work on a totally impartial footing.
The left has already forcefully infiltrated education, government, employment, media, Hollywood and entertainment, and now, increasingly, the corporate world. Leftists have been relentlessly pressuring corporations for decades, and the results now speak for themselves. The left has also positioned FEP and the center/right generally as the enemy, and is continuing to work tirelessly to silence, demonize and cancel us. If it wins, our choices will be submission or starvation.
The right is simply behind in this fight. We have obliviously watched leftism poison corporate America without implementing a plan to sufficiently fight back. That is now changing and FEP is leading the charge. We must play hardball with the left to combat wokeism’s takeover of big business. Because of our initial inaction, our backs are now against the wall. We need all hands on deck to change corporations’ leftward course.
Typically, all shareholder meetings operate similarly (though businesses have some discretion in how to organize them).). Normally, the CEO will direct the meeting and order a vote on proxy materials to start. Once the votes are in, the preliminary results are tallied and announced to shareholders. After the formal portion of the meeting, a business executive will give an overview of the previous year and talk about the company’s plans for the upcoming year. At the end of the meeting, the company conducts a Q&A session in which shareholders can confront CEOs with questions.
Employees can alert FEP about woke discriminatory workplaces by clicking here and providing us with as much information as they are willing to share, and a sense of what they would like us to do with the information. We are a confidential resource for those deciding what to do about woke discrimination, critical race theory and other concerns in the workplace.
Employees can also contact friendly local media or seek legal counsel.
No one should suffer race-, sex- or other surface-characteristic discrimination in silence, even if that discrimination is dressed up in the lie of “anti-racism” or the like.
There are numerous ways to fight back as an employee or even a consumer. Here are a few.
Unless you only want to buy the stock of one specific company, the best first step is to open a brokerage account. There are a wide array of such brokerages, from online (or “over-the-counter”) to the big names. A quick search will give you a variety of options. Then you set up the account, deposit some money in it and become an investor.
If you’re buying not only to become a shareholder activist (and we thank you for joining us!) but also to invest for your future, we advise that you get some good advice about how to put together a balanced and diversified (in the sense of owning lots of different kinds of assets) portfolio that will minimize firm- and industry-specific risks. Here’s just one link that provides a quick overview of advice. There are many, many others.
Auditor: A person authorized to review and verify the accuracy of financial records and to ensure that companies comply with tax laws. An auditor protects businesses from fraud, points out discrepancies in accounting methods, and occasionally works on a consultancy basis, helping organizations spot ways to boost operational efficiency.
Compensation plan votes: Formal votes on the compensation of the CEO and directors. If you vote against some or all of the directors, you may very well also wish to vote against the compensation plan. It won’t (realistically) change anyone’s take-home pay, but it will send a message.
Director: The head of an organization, either elected or appointed, who generally has certain powers and duties relating to management or administration. A corporation’s board of directors is composed of a group of people who are elected by the shareholders to make important company policy decisions.
Proxy statement: A document containing the information the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) requires companies to provide to shareholders so they can make informed decisions about matters that will be brought up at an annual or special stockholder meeting. A proxy statement may include proposals for new additions to the board of directors, information on directors’ salaries, information on bonus and options plans for directors and any declarations made by the company’s management.
Proxy vote: A ballot cast by a single person, or by a firm on behalf of a shareholder who may not be able to attend a shareholder meeting or who chooses not to vote on a particular issue. Shareholders receive a proxy ballot in the mail along with an information booklet called a proxy statement, which describes the issues to be voted on during the meeting. Shareholders vote on a variety of issues including the election of board members, merger or acquisition approvals and approving stock compensation plans.
Shareholder (also Stockholder): A person, company or institution that owns at least one share of a company’s stock, known as equity. Because shareholders are essentially owners of a company, they reap the benefits of a business’s success. Under law, it is their interests that company executives must use to guide their decision making.
Shareholder proposal: A recommendation, formally submitted by a shareholder, that a publicly traded company take a specific course of action.
Stock (also Shares or Equity): A security that represents the ownership of a fraction of a corporation. This entitles the stock owner to a proportion of the corporation’s assets and profits equal to how much stock they own.