The Council of Institutional Investors is a nonprofit association of pension funds, other employee benefit funds, endowments and foundations with combined assets that exceed $3 trillion. We are the leading voice for effective corporate governance and strong shareowner rights. CII educates its members, policymakers and the public about the importance of corporate governance, shareowner rights and related investment issues, and advocates on our members’ behalf.
Corporate governance involves the structure of relationships between shareowners, directors and managers of a company. Good corporate governance is a system of checks and balances that fosters transparency, responsibility, accountability and market integrity.
Our organization enjoys a reputation for honesty, leadership, thoughtful analysis and creative consensus-building. Lawmakers, regulators, corporate officials and public interest group leaders look to CII for expertise and ideas.
CII was founded in 1985, a time of corporate takeovers, imperial CEOs and insulated boards of directors. Shareowners had little say in most corporate decisions and did not appreciate the potential power of their proxy votes. The founders were a group of 21 visionaries, most public pension fund officials, who believed that the companies in which they were investing their members’ retirement assets needed more oversight by shareholders. They also felt that by pooling their resources, institutional investors could use their burgeoning proxy power to hold companies accountable. CII's founding co-chairs were State Treasurer of California Jesse Unruh, New York City Comptroller Harrison J. Goldin and State of Wisconsin Investment Board Chair John Konrad.
From that day forward, CII's goal has been constant as our membership has grown larger and more diverse: strong governance standards at public companies and strong shareholder rights. Members use their proxy votes, shareowner resolutions, pressure on regulators, discussions with companies and litigation where necessary to effect change.
Today, many CII corporate governance policies once considered radical are commonly accepted standards. Our voting membership has grown to more than 125 public, union and corporate employee benefit plans, endowments and foundations with combined assets that exceed $3 trillion. They and other Institutional shareowners have a much greater voice today than they did in 1985 in part because of the constant vigilance and hard work of CII to protect and strengthen that voice.
By joining CII, your organization can extend its influence and stand at the forefront of a growing, global movement.