Laura Weiss

Investors mull blockchain to improve corporate elections, shareholder votes
Move could help boost participation and limit miscounts

Blockchain, a technology most closely associated with cryptocurrency, is being explored as the solution to better corporate board elections and shareholder votes, which have been plagued by cases of low participation and high-profile miscounts.

The decentralized, distributed ledger technology gained prominence as the backbone of cryptocurrencies like bitcoin because it allows tracking ownership as the tokens change hands. It also provides access and enables verification of pseudonymous information by multiple users in real time. Once entered in the ledger, encrypted “blocks” of information can’t be changed or falsified because the entire network can view the ledger. 

Google under pressure from Congress, activists, shareholders
CQ on Congress, Episode 165

In the face of gridlock in Congress, investors, pension funds, and some states are pushing public companies to do more to diversify their boards, combat climate change, stamp out sexual harassment and give workers a voice.

CQ Roll Call's Laura Weiss talks about what happened at Google's annual shareholder meeting where board members were confronted with protests and calls for change. 

California board diversity mandate spreads to other states, Washington

SACRAMENTO, Calif., — California’s mandate that boards of directors overseeing public companies include women is catching fire as states including Illinois, New York and New Jersey, as well as lawmakers in Washington, consider similar rules to promote diversity, government officials told CQ Roll Call.

But efforts to establish requirements for other underrepresented groups such as African Americans and Latinos or Latinas, however, are encountering opposition from business groups and skeptics who say the measures either aren’t needed or aren’t inclusive enough.

Google workers, labor advocates confront parent Alphabet over practices

SUNNYVALE, Calif., — Google workers, labor advocates, and local community members rallied outside parent company Alphabet Inc.’s annual meeting of company shareholders here on Wednesday, calling on the technology company to change its labor practices.

Employees, including several who presented investor-backed proposals inside the meeting, called on Google to listen to its workforce following a series of walkouts demanding better policies related to sexual misconduct allegations, discrimination, and contract workers.

A new era for the ERA?
Equal Rights Amendment measures gain traction in Congress and beyond after #MeToo

In a moment of reckoning for women’s equality, lawmakers and investors are teaming up to push for change in corporate boardrooms, executive suites, and across the country — and that’s generating renewed interest in an Equal Rights Amendment.

Propelled by the #MeToo and Time’s Up movements, women are flexing their power to confront everything from gender pay disparities and harassment to the lack of legal protections and corporate diversity.

Disney should pay workers higher wages, founder’s granddaughter says
Disney told lawmakers The Walt Disney Co.’s pay practices don’t align with “the values my family taught me

Activist and filmmaker Abigail Disney told lawmakers The Walt Disney Co.’s pay practices don’t align with “the values my family taught me” and that the media business her grandfather built should be paying workers higher wages.

“Disney could lead once more,” said Disney — an heir to the family fortune — on Wednesday during a House Financial Services subcommittee hearing. “All it lacks, ironically, is the imagination to do so.”

Opioid maker Mallinckrodt to support lobbying disclosure

Mallinckrodt Plc, a major manufacturer of generic opioids, is backing an investor’s request it disclose its lobbying spending and plans to issue a report, according to a shareholder coalition pressing drug companies to improve oversight in light of the opioid epidemic and confirmed by the company’s proxy statement released Wednesday. 

The Staines-upon-Thames, England-based company told members of Investors for Opioid Accountability, who together manage $3.4 trillion in assets, it would recommend stockholders vote in favor of the group’s lobbying disclosure proposal, said co-leader Donna Meyer and Katie McCloskey, director of social responsibility for IOA member United Church Funds, lead filer of the request.

Trahan brings Uber skills to drive change in Congress
Massachusetts Democrat pushes for diversity in Congress, nation

Lori Trahan felt a rush of nerves as she accepted her first fare as an Uber driver. Seeking to find out why the ride-hailing service lacked female drivers, the then-consultant found herself about to let a total stranger into her car. A new, potentially unknown location popped up for her to drive to, with little time to adjust and a waiting passenger in the back seat.

“There’s definitely that first-time hurdle where you hit the accept and you’re driving to pick up someone new and there’s an adrenaline and there’s an anxiety that goes along with that,” said Trahan, now the congresswoman from Massachusetts’ 3rd District. “The second you get over that, it’s unbelievable that after you do it once so much of that hesitation and that reticence, it just melts away.”