On June 22, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) released the latest edition of its Reg Flex Agenda, which is essentially the rulemaking calendar for the next year or so. Perhaps the most surprising takeaway is the climate rule is scheduled to be adopted as early as October 2022. While the schedules may likely shift during the internal rule drafting process, the agenda is helpful as it provides a sense of the SEC’s priorities and pipeline.
In March 2021, the Securities and Exchange Commission’s (SEC) then-acting chair, Allison Herren Lee, announced the creation of an Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) Task Force within the SEC’s Division of Enforcement. Sanjay Wadhwa, the deputy director of the SEC’s Enforcement Division heads the ESG Task Force. The initial focus of this task force was to “identify any material gaps or misstatements in issuers’ disclosure of climate risks under existing [SEC] rules.” Before yesterday, the ESG Task Force had not yet made a publicly announced climate-related enforcement action initiated by it.
After months of anticipation, on March 21, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3:1 to propose climate change-related disclosure rules that would implement prescriptive climate-related disclosure requirements (which would be applicable for most public companies) in a wide array of climate-related areas, including with respect to governance, outlook, risk management, GHG emissions, climate-related targets and goals and financial statement disclosures. These proposed rules, which are intended to provide investors with consistent, comparable, and reliable climate-related information, would represent a major shift in the public company disclosure landscape and will require significant advance effort by public companies to facilitate compliance.
Join Bass, Berry & Sims and leading environmental, social and governance (ESG) thought leaders for the next installment in our ESG Impact Webinar series on Tuesday, May 24, 2022. Our panelists will share their experience and perspectives on what in-house counsel should consider as it relates to these proposed climate change disclosure rules. Discussion topics will include:
- Overview of the Proposed Rules.
- Required Disclosure under Regulation S-X.
- Required Disclosure under Regulation S-K.
- Phase-In Periods.
- Practical Takeaways and Next Steps.
Along with equal prominence, probably one of the most often non-GAAP comments we see issued by the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) Staff involves its objection to adjustments that it believes substitute individually tailored measurement methods for those of GAAP. Often, the SEC Staff comments will cite to Question 100.04 of the Non-GAAP Financial Measures Compliance & Disclosure Interpretations, as follows:
Question: A registrant presents a non-GAAP performance measure that is adjusted to accelerate revenue recognized ratably over time in accordance with GAAP as though it earned revenue when customers are billed. Can this measure be presented in documents filed or furnished with the Commission or provided elsewhere, such as on company websites?
Answer: No. Non-GAAP measures that substitute individually tailored revenue recognition and measurement methods for those of GAAP could violate Rule 100(b) of Regulation G. Other measures that use individually tailored recognition and measurement methods for financial statement line items other than revenue may also violate Rule 100(b) of Regulation G. [May 17, 2016] (emphasis added)
Institutional investors and proxy advisory firms continue developing and refining their policies regarding board diversity. While gender diversity on public company boards has been in focus for some time now, institutional investors and proxy advisory firms are also increasingly focusing on racial and ethnic diversity as part of their evolving approach to board diversity.
This post summarizes published board diversity policies of several institutional investors and proxy advisory firms into a singular resource for ease of reference. Below the initial breakdown is a description of specific policies concerning board diversity shareholder proposals.
Corporate Compliance Insights recently published an article I co-authored with Mai-Khoi Nguyen-Thanh, senior counsel of securities & governance at Boston Scientific, discussing the guidance from the 2022 proxy season related to environmental activity and disclosures.
After months of anticipation, on March 21, 2022, the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) voted 3:1 to propose climate change-related disclosure rules that would impact a company’s annual reports and registration statements. As indicated previously by the Staff, the proposed climate-related disclosure framework is modeled partially on the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosure’s (TCFD) recommendations and draws upon the Greenhouse Gas (GHG) Protocol. (See our previous blog post discussing the Staff’s consideration of TCFD). The proposed rules, seemingly unprecedented in nature, are significantly more prescriptive rather than “principles-based” disclosure rooted in materiality, and intended to provide stakeholders with “consistent and comparable data.”
On March 9, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) proposed rules and amendments to enhance and standardize public companies’ disclosures regarding cybersecurity risk management, strategy, governance, and incident reporting.
Late last year, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) approved amendments to the federal proxy rules to, among other things, mandate the use of a universal proxy card in public solicitations involving director election contests. On February 24, we hosted a webinar to discuss issues relating to universal proxy rules. Access the recording of the webinar here.
We provided an overview of the universal proxy requirement and proxy contests under the new regime during the webinar. We also discussed universal proxy’s influence on activist strategies and tactics and provided practical guidance on what companies should prepare now. Key insights from the discussion are highlighted below.
I recently provided comments for an article in The Wall Street Journal about public company disclosures related to climate change risks. The Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is expected to announce a rule proposal on climate-related disclosures this year. In anticipation of that new proposal, the SEC has been sending comment letters to some companies asking for clarification about their climate change risks to help inform investors in their decision-making.