Omnicom Shareholders Reject NYC's Diversity Proposal

by , May 29, 2012, 12:26 PM
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John-Wren-A2Omnicom shareholders voted against a proposal from the Office of the Comptroller of New York City to disclose the company’s EEOC filings that report annually a comprehensive breakdown of the company’s workforce by race and gender across all employment categories.

The proposal was defeated by a margin of 2 to 1, which the city found encouraging. A rep for Comptroller’s office said that shareholder proposals dealing with equal employment opportunities often receive votes (in favor) of less than 10%, not the 33% that voted for the Omnicom measure.

“Shareowners sent a clear message to the board that they want to see evidence of the company’s efforts to promote equal opportunities for its workforce,” New York City Comptroller John C. Liu stated. “Employee diversity is key to long-term value and without disclosure of the employment data that the company already submits to the federal government, shareowners have no way of knowing whether the company’s stated commitment is genuine."

An Omnicom rep did not respond to a query seeking comment by deadline. But Omnicom had earlier urged shareholders to vote against the proposal, arguing that the EEO data “is neither informative nor is it a reliable measure of our commitment to equal opportunity employment. We do not believe that disclosing it will meaningfully further the goal of workplace diversity.”

The Comptroller’s Office made the shareholder proposal after a letter from Liu to Omnicom chairman Bruce Crawford requesting that the company voluntarily release the data went unanswered.

Separately, shareholders re-elected Crawford, CEO John Wren and other board members by wide margins. Roughly 99% of the voted shares were cast in favor of re-electing Wren.

There was a little bit more blowback, however, on an advisory vote regarding the company’s executive compensation plan, although it still passed easily. Of shares voted for or against the plan, about 21% were cast against it and 79% in favor. CEO Wren was paid about $15 million in 2011, according to company documents. 

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