CORPORATIONS: Rise of Portfolio Power

COMPANY annual meetings used to be quiet affairs, marred only occasionally by a question from some oddball stockholder about executive salaries or next quarter's profits. This year, however, the annual meeting has emerged as a hot new battleground in the struggle over the social responsibility of business. Organized corporate critics in growing numbers are pressing proxy votes and raising questions from the floor on issues like minority hiring, pollution, defense production and company operations in South Africa. While the challengers have so far lost all their skirmishes, they may be winning a wider war to influence company policy.

Landslides. Some...

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