Communicating effectively with shareholders is becoming increasingly vital as companies compete for their attention and face various corporate governance challenges. Companies are accountable to their shareholders--they own the company and they elect the board of directors. In addition to solid financial performance, shareholders want to know companies are doing the right things.
The future is engagement and communication. Finding new and effective ways to increase shareholder engagement and proxy voting is essential. Shareholders of all types, along with regulatory bodies, want more disclosure in a form they can understand.
In 2010, Prudential went to great lengths to ensure our proxy materials were written in plain language and completely revamped the design of the proxy statement and voting cards. In response to the board and senior management's desire for increased transparency in communicating their decisions, the governance committee proposed a "State of the Union" letter in the proxy. This letter, written in plain language and signed by each director, emphasized the board's role as a steward of the company and summarized the actions the board has taken on behalf of shareholders.
We continued this trend in 2011 by incorporating a two-page summary at the beginning of the proxy statement highlighting business performance and compensation decisions. We also designed shareholder-friendly charts and graphics, including highlight boxes that underscore Prudential's sustainability, corporate citizenship, and shareholder engagement efforts. In response to shareholder feedback, we included a chart summarizing each director's skills and experience and provided more detail in the directors' biographies. Shareholders voting online had the added convenience of linking to the directors' biographies as well as the supporting statements for each proposal being voted upon.
As critical as it is to provide clear, concise communications to shareholders, it is equally important for...