VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC. | Alignment of stated corporate values with political and electioneering expenditures at VERIZON COMMUNICATIONS INC.

Status
Filed
Previous AGM date
Resolution details
Company ticker
VZ
Lead filer
Resolution ask
Report on or disclose
ESG theme
  • Governance
ESG sub-theme
  • Corporate purpose
  • Lobbying / political engagement
Type of vote
Shareholder proposal
Filer type
Shareholder
Company sector
Telecom
Company HQ country
United States
Resolved clause
RESOLVED: Shareholders request the Board annually report, at reasonable expense, on VerizonÕs political and electioneering expenditures, identifying and analyzing incongruence between such expenditures and the CompanyÕs operational and strategic needs and its stated values and policies. The report should state whether Verizon has made, or plans to make, changes in contributions or communications as a result of identified incongruencies.
Whereas clause
WHEREAS: According to public data collected by OpenSecrets.org, Verizon Communications Inc. and its employee PAC have ranked in the top 1% of political donors in every election cycle since at least 2012.[1]

As the Supreme Court has explained, transparency in corporate electoral spending Òpermits citizens and shareholders to react to the speech of corporate entities in a proper wayÓ by providing Òshareholders and citizens with the information needed to hold corporations and elected officials accountable.Ó[2]

Greater political spending transparency is associated with Òbetter internal corporate decision-makingÓ and Òfacilitates a positive relationship between corporate political spending and future financial performance.Ó[3]

By contrast, political donations to candidates that do not fully align with a companyÕs stated values and commitments may create long-tail reputational risks to the Company when recipients engage in polarizing political acts. The impacts on a company may include difficulties in recruiting and retaining talented employees, shareholder dissatisfaction, and public backlash and boycotts.[4]

Verizon publicly discloses a policy on corporate political spending and its direct contributions to candidates, parties, and committees. Verizon does not, however, disclose information regarding misalignment between its political spending and the CompanyÕs strategic and operational needs or its publicly stated values and vision as articulated in its corporate responsibility reporting.

As a result, investors are unable to determine if Verizon is directing its political expenditures in a way that is consistent with the CompanyÕs strategic needs, values, and interests. Clear policies and reporting on VerizonÕs political spending would provide investors with assurance that the inherent brand risk associated with political spending is well-managed.
Supporting statement
SUPPORTING STATEMENT: Proponents recommend, at management discretion, that Verizon include in its analysis metrics that illuminate the degree to which political contributions align with stated strategy, values, and policy priorities year-over-year and present such metrics in the aggregate. Proponents further recommend the report contain managementÕs analysis of political spending risks to our CompanyÕs brand, reputation, or shareholder value that might arise from spending from the corporate treasury or from its PACs, directly or through third parties, which are reasonably susceptible to interpretation as being in support of or in opposition to a specific candidate.

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