Posted June 20, 2008
Robert A.G. Monks Statement to 2008 ExxonMobil Annual Meeting in support of a shareholder proposal to separate the roles of CEO and Chairman of the Board at Exxon. Monks is a member the Ethical Markets Research Advisory Board.
“I have been here before, but I think I should explain why I’m here. I’m here for two reasons. First, I believe that shareholders have a role in the governance of modern corporations. I believe that when shareholders call to the attention of directors who they elect and to whom the directors are accountable, matters of importance in the governance of the corporation that the directors should take their concern seriously. I think that when over a period of five years the support for these resolutions goes from some 20% to some 40% that any reasonable board would make the effort to inform themselves as to whether they want an opinion of which they hadn’t previously been aware. I am sure the Board has experts, and I would love to see their expert opinion; but the fact of the matter is, Mr. Tillerson, no director of this corporation has ever contacted me about this resolution, and I have spoken to no officer of this corporation for five years. I consider that irresponsible and a reason to withhold votes from all of the directors.”
“The second reason I am here is because ExxonMobil is a great corporation. The fact that it is a great corporation is important. It is important to its owners, it is important to the directors its import to the employees and it is important to the world that this great company be able to take the leadership in the extraordinary problems the world now has in trying to figure out how are we going to be able to provide the energy that is going to be the wealth that’s going to keep this world advancing in a positive level.”
“The success of ExxonMobil is perhaps one of the critical factors in whether or not people have pensions in this country. It is one of the largest holdings of every pension fund in the world. So the reason why I come year after year and say I think we ought to consider is it possible there is something they haven’t thought of, is it possible it is a different frame of reference. There isn’t any cookie cutter that says every company should be run the same way. But is this really something that you are thinking about? Have you seriously been looking into it? If you are, you haven’t asked me.”
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The proposal was supported by 39.5% of the 4.4 billion shares cast.
For more on Bob’s views regarding shareholder responsibility, view Bob’s recent CNBC Interview www.ragm.com/exxon_video.html