Is your organization prepared to be accountable to stakeholders (and the marketplace) for its human capital management policies and practices? If your company is still looking at human capital as a cost and not an asset, brace yourself for a dramatic perspective shift. As Michael S. Melbinger, attorney and author of the Executive Compensation Blog, has observed, “the COVID-19 pandemic has pushed human capital issues to the fore like never before.”
Even before COVID-19, energies and intentions were changing. How organizations “care for” employees is increasingly under the microscope, which clearly includes what companies are doing to attract, reward and retain the talented workers that are critical to an organization’s success.
We’re pleased to share these further human capital management insights today from Liz Dunshee, the Editor of The CorporateCounsel.net, by way of the Executive Compensation Blog. The following article was first published by CompensationStandards.com.
Human Capital: Tipping Point for Board Involvement
By Liz Dunshee
We’ve been blogging about “human capital” as an emerging issue for a few years now, but it feels like this year has been the tipping point for the topic to attract significant attention. Momentum was building around long-term corporate purpose and commitments to “stakeholders,” and pay ratio disclosure led to greater exposure & examination of income inequality. Against that backdrop, the pandemic and social unrest have united many investors in their focus on workforce health & safety, as well as pay equity and diversity & inclusion. Investors want to know the board is attuned to these issues, and companies are recognizing that.
As I blogged last fall, some compensation committees are beginning to change their names to reflect a broader “human capital” role. This E&Y memo says that express board oversight is becoming much more common. Here’s an excerpt:
Investors’ prioritization of workforce issues manifested in a number of ways, from publicly-declared stewardship goals to high-profile letter campaigns to record-level support of related shareholder proposals.
This year’s proxy disclosures demonstrate that many companies are paying attention: the percentage of Fortune 100 companies that voluntarily highlighted human capital initiatives and commitments more than doubled over the past three years, rising from 32% in 2017 to 77% in 2020. Similarly, the percentage of companies that explicitly assigned board or committee oversight of human capital jumped from 28% in 2017 to 69% in 2020, with those responsibilities generally assigned to compensation committees.
The memo notes that the “top 5” human capital topics addressed are: diversity; health, wellness & safety; compensation; and development, skills & capabilities – and points out that how a company treats employees in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis could affect its brand value for years to come.
This topic will be addressed in more than one presentation in the upcoming “Proxy Disclosure & Executive Compensation” Conferences, beginning September 21 and held virtually so that everyone can safely attend. Check out the agendas – 15 panels over 3 days (including two with your friendly blogger).
#compensationcommittee #humancapital #COVID19 #executivecomp
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