Global advocacy group SumOfUs has filed a shareholder proposal that will be on the agenda at Royal Bank of Canada’s (RBC) annual meeting in Toronto on Thursday calling for the bank to enhance disclosure concerning its lobbying efforts.
The proposal “is intended to bring international standards of transparency and accountability to the Canadian banking sector,” the organization says.
“We’re asking the Royal Bank of Canada and the Canadian banking sector more broadly for increased transparency,” says Lisa Lindsley, capital markets advisor for SumOfUs. “The reputations of Canadian banks have already been tarnished over allegations of aggressive and unscrupulous sales tactics. Banks must be more forthcoming to shareholders and rebuild trust with consumers, neither of whom want their money to fund controversial lobbying efforts.”
In the bank’s proxy circular, its board of directors recommends that shareholders vote against the proposal. Specifically, the board notes that the bank’s public advocacy activities are subject to board oversight; that RBC adheres to lobbying rules; and that the bank documents these efforts in its public reporting.
“We will continue to review our approach against best practices and to enhance our approach, but in light of our governance practices and public disclosures already available, the board of directors does not believe the additional disclosure called for by the proposal is necessary,” RBC’s proxy circular says.
Vancouver-based proxy advisory firm Shareholder Association for Research & Education (SHARE) indicated recently that it’s also advocating for more information from firms about their lobbying efforts.
Read: SHARE successfully pushes for disclosure of corporate political activity