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Cisco shareholders win say-on-pay

Shake tiny fists at big wallets

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Cisco shareholders have narrowly approved a right to shake their tiny fists at the company's executive payroll.

The networking equipment giant is the latest tech vendor to be enamored by "say-on-pay" schemes amidst public outrage over enormous corporate potentate payouts in the crap economy.

Notables like Microsoft, Apple, and Verizon have already given themselves the right to dispense advice on executive wallet sizes.

Cisco's narrowly approved say-on-pay plan would allow shareholders to cast a non-binding vote on compensation of senior executives each year. The deal was put to a vote during the company's annual shareholder meeting on Thursday, but the results were declared "too close to determine" and left out of preliminary vote results.

Thirty-four per cent of shares outstanding voted in favor of the proposal, with 32 per cent opposing. The remaining votes abstained.

Even though the scheme is non-binding and arguably toothless, Cisco executives were unsurprisingly against it. The company said in a statement that the measure is unnecessary because shareholders already have more effective ways to communicate their views on executive compensation "through regular discussions with management" and the compensation committee of the board of directors.

"Given the many different facets of compensation policy, a simple, non-binding vote does not provide guidance as to any issues that may be of concern to shareholders," it stated.

The resolution was proposed by Christian Brothers Investment Services, a group with nearly 1.2 million shares of Cisco.

"This majority vote by Cisco's shareholders sends a clear message. The onus is now on Cisco to take a leadership stance and enact Say on Pay before federal legislation mandates such policies for all public corporations," said Julie Tanner, assistant director of investing at CBIS.

Co-sponsors of the resolution include other religious investment orgs such as the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, Community Church of New York, Sisters of St. Francis of Philadelphia, and Sister of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary US Ontario Province. Who knew networking supplies was so popular with Christian groups? ®

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