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Zombies at your Shareholder Meeting?

THE SCARIEST IN-BOX ITEM SO FAR THIS YEAR 

One of our fellow Inspectors of Election left a message to say that a client just learned that protestors at their upcoming shareholder meeting would be coming dressed as ZOMBIES. “Have you ever heard of costumes at shareholder meetings? Any ideas on what to do?” he asked.

“Guess what? Coming to shareholder meetings in costumes is a very old tradition!” Check out this article for a photo of old-time gadfly Wilma Soss dressed as Molly Pitcher - and as a “Cleaning Lady” following the TV Game Show scandals - and one year, she came to the General Motors meeting in a wheelchair, wrapped head-to-toe in fake-blood-smeared bandages to dramatize a steering-defect scandal.

But zombies??? Yes, indeed, that could create quite a scare: Quite by coincidence, your editor had just participated in a lengthy in-box/out-box exchange of info on the Society’s “Huddle” site about Rules of Conduct for Shareholder Meetings - and this, we told our colleague, was the first thing to work on, ASAP.

While the sample rules that we and another member shared did not cover costumes - or zombies - we suggested that the client draft an amended rule immediately that would stress, maybe as Rule 1, that “This is a legally required and important Meeting of Shareholders, with important business to be conducted. Accordingly, the Rules of Conduct will be very strictly observed and enforced: There will be no demonstrations permitted in the meeting spaces; no signs, no costumes, no chanting or shouting-out of comments or slogans - and any violators of these rules will be removed from the room immediately.”

The Huddle discussion and sample rules did not cover guns either - and here, whether the meeting is in an ‘open carry state’ or not, we would add a strict no-gun rule to the more usual no recording device/no-cell-phone rule if people dressed like zombies are expected to be prowling around.

We also stressed another good point that came out in the Huddle discussion: The very best practice with Rules of Conduct is to place them directly into the hands of shareholders once they are registered and OK’d to enter the meeting site - and to ask shareholders to read them before they do so. (One Huddle commenter requires attendees to sign a roster to acknowledge receipt of the Rules - which we find to be a very good idea if trouble is expected.)

Another very important thing to do ASAP, we said, is to contact the manager of the resort location where the meeting would be held, since most such venues will typically prohibit signs, demonstrations and inappropriate costumes too - and will require demonstrators to stay X yards away from the venue itself. The venue’s management team will also know how to coordinate appropriately with law enforcement officials, who will, almost certainly, keep any Zombie-Apocalypse-invaders in line - and well away from the meeting site.

This “zombie invasion” sounds to us like a rather well-coordinated thing that so far appears to be aimed primarily at makers and sellers of tobacco products. But maybe other products that might be deemed unhealthy ones might come under zombie invasions too…So readers, keep your eyes and ears to the ground as the meeting season ramps up.