Preview of Procter & Gamble’s (Virtual) 2020 Annual Meeting
Updated: Oct 15, 2020
[UPDATE: My report from the P&G's 2020 Annual Meeting can now be found here.]
I just received my proxy materials for The Procter & Gamble Company’s 2020 annual meeting of shareholders, scheduled to take place on Tuesday, October 13 at 12:00 noon EDT. Rest assured, I will be there with notebook and pen in hand!
P&G’s annual meeting has long been one of the most well-attended. Why? Going home with free SWIFFER made it worth the trip! But this year, mom and pop shareholders looking for freebees will be disappointed since the company has already made the decision to go virtual-only. Good call, since who knows when the current pandemic situation is going to end? (Based on current projections, definitely not by October 13.)
After the unprecedented proxy season we witnessed just a few months ago, it will be interesting to see how companies with fall meetings handle the virtual-only format and if any of the learnings will be applied. For now, we’ll take a look at disclosures written after some of the dust has settled from the spring. Here’s some good stuff from P&G’s 2020 Proxy Statement:
The Notice states, “To support the health and well-being of our employees and shareholders, this year’s meeting will be held virtually via a live audio webcast at www.virtualshareholdermeeting.com/PG2020.... Please see pages 2-5 for additional information regarding accessing the meeting and how to vote your shares.”
When we turn to pages 2-5, we see that our friends at P&G have provided clear, easy-to-read disclosures that do a nice job of addressing questions with the benefit of having watched a few thousand other companies go first. I like how they put all of this at the beginning of the document. After all, the whole point of the meeting is defeated if you have no idea how to attend and vote, so why not put it up front? I’ve underlined some of the parts that I’m especially glad to see they included:
Voting and Meeting Information
Can I vote during the virtual Annual Meeting instead of voting by proxy?
Yes, shareholders of record may vote during the virtual annual meeting by logging into the meeting website and following the instructions provided on the website. If you are the beneficial owner of shares held in street name, you should refer to the voting instructions provided by your brokerage firm, bank, or other holder of record. Beneficial owners, other than plan participants as outlined below, may also attend and vote online during the annual meeting. We encourage you to vote your proxy by Internet, telephone, or mail prior to the meeting, even if you plan to attend the virtual annual meeting. Participants in the NA Plans and UK and Ireland Plans must provide timely voting instructions to their respective plan fiduciaries prior to the meeting, as detailed in their materials.
Can I attend the Annual Meeting in person?
To support the health and well-being of our employees and our shareholders, this year’s annual meeting will be held exclusively online, with no option to attend in person. If you plan to attend the virtual meeting, you will need to visit www.virtualshareholdermeeting.com/PG2020) and use your 16-digit control number provided in the Notice or proxy card to log into the meeting. If you do not have a 16-digit control number, you may still attend the meeting as a guest in listen-only mode. We encourage shareholders to log in to the website and access the webcast early, beginning approximately 15 minutes before the annual meeting’s 12:00 p.m. start time. If you experience technical difficulties, please contact the technical support telephone number posted on www.virtualshareholdermeeting.com/PG2020).
Will I be able to ask questions and participate in the virtual Annual Meeting?
Shareholders of record and proxy holders who provide their valid 16-digit control number will be able to participate in the annual meeting by asking questions and voting their shares as outlined above.
To submit questions during the meeting, shareholders may either:
call the shareholder question telephone number (Toll Free: 1-877-328-2502; International: 1-412-317-5419), provide their 16- digit control number, and enter the queue to ask a question, or
log into the virtual meeting website with their 16-digit control number, type the question into the “Ask a Question” field, and click “Submit.”
Only shareholders with a valid control number will be allowed to ask questions. Questions pertinent to meeting matters will be answered during the meeting as time allows. If we receive substantially similar written questions, we may group such questions together and provide a single response to avoid repetition and allow time for additional question topics. If we are unable to respond to a shareholder’s properly submitted question due to time constraints, we will respond directly to that shareholder using the contact information provided.
Additional information regarding the rules and procedures for participating in the virtual annual meeting will be provided in our meeting rules of conduct, which shareholders can view during the meeting at the meeting website.
P&G has also set up a separate 2020 Annual Report page on its website. That’s a nice add since most companies just post HTML and PDF files and call it a day. The Downloads section of this page includes some good stuff beyond the Annual Report, Form 10-K, and Proxy Statement, including a prominent VOTE YOUR P&G SHARES button that takes you directly to the ProxyVote site.
Two shareholder proposals are up for a vote on October 13:
Report on Efforts to Eliminate Deforestation (submitted by Green Century Equity Fund)
Annual Report on Diversity (submitted by As You Sow)
Look for my post-game write-up sometime after the meeting ends.