Policy and Legal

Policy and Legal

NAM to Congress: Protect Manufacturers from SEC Overreach and ESG Activists

Manufacturers across the United States are driving economic expansion while also supporting sustainable business practices, enhancing diversity in the workforce and combatting climate change. Yet, politically motivated activists threaten to slow this progress by insisting on their own narrow agendas. Recent actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission will empower these groups and divert resources from manufacturers’ investments in job creation and business growth.

As the Financial Services Committee in the House of Representatives begins a monthlong hearing series on environmental, social and governance topics and other issues related to the proxy process, NAM President and CEO Jay Timmons is calling on Congress to rein in the SEC’s regulatory overreach and keep activists out of the boardroom.

Depoliticizing corporate governance: Activists on the left and right are increasingly abusing the proxy ballot to advance narrow social and political agendas. The SEC has taken steps in recent years to support and empower these activists.

  • The NAM is suggesting reforms to the rules governing shareholder proposals that will prevent activists from hijacking the proxy ballot in pursuit of political agendas unrelated to long-term business growth and shareholder value creation.

Reining in proxy advisory firms: Despite their significant conflicts of interest, errors and lack of transparency, proxy firms exercise outsized influence on corporate governance. More oversight and accountability are needed to protect manufacturers and Main Street investors from these powerful actors.

  • The NAM is pressing Congress to ensure that proxy firms are regulated appropriately by the SEC—including by requiring that the firms disclose and manage their conflicts of interest and allow companies to review their draft recommendations.

Protecting Main Street investors: In the face of pressure from ESG activists and proxy firms, the financial institutions that manage Americans’ 401(k) accounts and pension plans must take steps to protect these Main Street investors’ retirement savings.

  • The NAM is calling on lawmakers to ensure that asset managers cast proxy votes and make investing decisions solely in Main Street investors’ financial best interests—and without over-relying on proxy firms and ESG ratings organizations.

Limiting ESG disclosure mandates: The SEC’s aggressive ESG rulemaking agenda will increase costs and liability for manufacturers and overwhelm investors with a deluge of irrelevant information.

  • The NAM is urging Congress to limit any SEC disclosure mandates to information that is material to shareholders’ investing and voting decisions.

The last word: “Congress must step in to depoliticize the business decisions that impact the lives and life savings of millions of Americans,” said Timmons. “Manufacturers are determined to create jobs, lead the economy and improve the quality of life for all Americans. We are counting on [Congress’] leadership to counter the SEC’s regulatory overreach and help us achieve these goals.

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