Berkshire Hathaway, the conglomerate led by Warren Buffett, has urged its shareholders to reject proposals that would require the company to disclose more information about its climate change and diversity efforts, as well as avoid discussing social and political issues. Additionally, a shareholder proposal that would see Buffett relinquish his position as chairman while remaining CEO was also opposed.
These proposals are likely to fail as Buffett controls 31.5% of Berkshire’s voting power, despite donating over $46 billion of Berkshire stock since 2006. Furthermore, the company’s more than $60 billion in stock repurchases since the end of 2019 helps preserve Buffett’s voting power.
Berkshire’s decision to reject the proposals comes amid increasing pressure on corporations to take a stance on social and political issues, as well as disclose more information about their efforts to address climate change and diversity. Some investors argue that such information is crucial in making investment decisions, particularly as environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors gain in importance.
However, Berkshire has long been known for its reluctance to take a public stance on such issues. In a letter to shareholders last year, Buffett wrote that he believed “Berkshire shareholders are best served by our avoiding political or social commentary”.
While Berkshire’s opposition to the proposals is unlikely to surprise many, it underscores the ongoing debate around the role of corporations in addressing social and political issues, and the level of transparency required in these efforts.