Yesterday the SEC approved rules to give shareholders who own 3% of a company’s stock for at least 3 years the right to have their board nominee included in the company’s proxy materials. The highly-debated issue passed with a 3-2 vote, and SEC Chairman Mary Shapiro is confident about the decision. Further, Rob Feckner, president of CalPERS, said it was a ‘win-win’ for businesses and investors.

Proxy access has been CalPERS’ top corporate governance goal for a long time, and it (along with other US public pension funds) have been lobbying the SEC for meaningful rules for awhile, according to Responsible Investor. CalPERS has already started recruiting executives to act as director nominees, according to the Wall Street Journal.

“Universal proxy access is a fundamental shareholder right enjoyed in most developed nations around the world, so we are very happy to see the United States achieve parity on this critical market mechanism,” said Lisa Woll, CEO of the Social Investment Forum, which has campaigned on the issue since it was founded in the early 1980s (Responsible Investor).

The proposal was voted against by two SEC Commissioners, Kathleen Casey and Troy Paredes. Casey said the new rule will join climate change disclosure in the “pantheon of the SEC’s poor decisions”. The US Chamber of Commerce also opposed the vote, saying: “Rather than focusing on good corporate governance, the SEC has given special interests the ability to hold the board hostage on narrow issues at the expense of other shareholders” (Responsible Investor).

What do you think? Was this a good decision by the SEC? Do you think it will benefit businesses and investors, or not? Discuss!