Goldman Sachs facing six ESG resolutions at annual general meeting

Investors table questions on pay and climate change

Wall Street giant Goldman Sachs is facing six separate environmental, social and governance (ESG) related shareholder proposals at its forthcoming annual general meeting.
The proposals range from governance matters such as cumulative voting and shareholder meetings to political donations and climate change. The issue that will probably capture most headlines is a proposal from a group of nuns on senior executive pay.
The company is advising shareholders to vote against all the proposals at its May 6 AGM in Jersey City.
The Sisters of Saint Joseph of Boston, Sisters of Notre Dame de Namur, the Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia and the Benedictine Sisters of Mt. Angel, in a co-filing with the Nathan Cummings Foundation, want the company’s Compensation Committee to review Goldman’s senior executive compensation policies and publish a report by October 1. Goldman, they say, became the focus of public anger over “extremely excessive executive compensation schemes” following the near implosion of the financial markets in 2008.

The proposal seeks an evaluation of whether Goldman’s top pay is indeed “excessive” and should be modified.In response, Goldman argues a report would be a “distraction” to the Compensation Committee and the Board.
The National Center for Public Policy Research is calling for a report by November 1 disclosing the business risk related to developments in “the political, legislative, regulatory and scientific landscape regarding climate change”.
“Goldman Sachs will be materially affected by developments concerning climate change,” the NCPPR argues, pointing out that Goldman’s Environmental Markets Group has $3bn of investments in renewable energy.

The investment bank rejects this, saying: “Goldman Sachs is not a scientific institution, nor do we commission scientific reports.” It argues the AGM is not an appropriate forum for a debate on complex scientific topics and that a report would not provide meaningful information to shareholders.
Domini Social Investments is seeking a report on Goldman’s political contributions. There are also proposals from shareholder activists Evelyn Davis, James McRitchie and John Harrington on cumulative voting, special shareowner meetings and long-term incentives. Goldman’s proxy statement