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Harlan Tufford

Harlan Tufford

Vice President, MSCI Research

Harlan Tufford leads MSCI’s corporate-governance research in North America. Prior to joining MSCI, he helped clients in Canada, the United States and globally perform board evaluations, addressing issues such as board effectiveness, succession planning and director compensation. He has extensive experience conducting corporate-governance research and holds a bachelor’s degree, with honors, from the University of Toronto.

Research and Insights

Articles by Harlan Tufford

    Is Say-on-Climate Losing Steam?

    2 mins read Quick Take | Apr 17, 2024 | Harlan Tufford, Florian Sommer, Gül Demirtaş, David Muirhead

    As proxy season nears, investors looking at how companies in their portfolios are working toward establishing and meeting climate goals may find it useful to note trends around shareholder say-on-climate proposals. 

    ExxonMobil’s Legal Parry

    Podcast | Feb 23, 2024 | Harlan Tufford

    ExxonMobil filed a legal complaint against two of its own shareholders, who were hoping to put a climate-related proposal to a vote at the company’s upcoming AGM. We discuss why it’s a decision that could have consequences for the wider shareholder community and the companies they invest in.

    Going on a Boeing?

    Podcast | Jan 26, 2024 | Michael Disabato, Harlan Tufford

    One door plug blowout, one emergency landing and zero injuries. For Boeing, quality checks and tailored governance structures aren’t adding up to a great safety record. But looking at the underlying ESG data might shed light on where things might be going wrong.

    The Five Stories of ESG: A Recap Episode

    Podcast | Oct 20, 2023 | Michael Disabato, Harlan Tufford, Chris Cote, Yu Ishihara, Antonios Panagiotopoulos, Mathew Lee

    This week, we are returning to five stories we have already covered to see what progress has been made (if any!): The Adani Group and its attempt to address a short seller report that questioned the group’s governance that led to a massive loss in market share; the United Auto Workers strikes and the continued struggle in the auto industry; the Inflation Reduction Act and the trillions of dollars of capital is supports; what the EPA’s methane rule has done for the gas industry in the US; and how Exxon has changed after having three seats of its 12 member board taken by over by Engine No. 1, an activist investor worried about carbon emissions.

    Engagement Is a Powerful Force in Climate Action

    5 mins read Blog | Sep 19, 2023 | Chris Cote, Harlan Tufford

    As the urgency of addressing climate change continues to grow, investor engagement could be key to holding companies accountable for their environmental impact and influencing corporate climate strategies and net-zero commitments. 

    There’s AI in My Boardroom

    Podcast | Aug 25, 2023 | Harlan Tufford, Tanya Matanda

    Artificial intelligence is rolling out in a big way across different industries and sectors. With much to lose and much to gain from this new trend, investors will be looking to boards that ask good questions and get good answers – even if that means letting AI into the boardroom.

    Are Shareholders Turning Against ESG?

    Podcast | Jun 30, 2023 | Harlan Tufford

    Part of proxy season is over, so we take a look at the landscape of shareholder proposals. And it is well known for to those who are closely watching shareholder proposals that ESG proposals have pretty much plummeted this year vs. last year and previous years – but why is that? Are ESG shareholder proposals losing steam and momentum? Or is that maybe too simple of a reading of the data? We also discuss the new crop of proposals coming out from a set of contrarian shareholder groups that buck the trend of proposals to date.

    Was SVB All About That ESG?

    Podcast | Mar 31, 2023 | Harlan Tufford

    From being a go-to bank for US tech start-ups, SVB’s collapse was swift and chaotic. As investors and regulators pick through the wreckage, we look at how much of this story was actually about ESG. And we draw a bold line between financially relevant ESG risks and financially relevant financial risks.

    Net-Zero Alignment: Engaging on Climate Change

    Research Report | Feb 7, 2023 | Chris Cote, Harlan Tufford

    Engagement, in tandem with capital allocation, is a key lever for institutional investors who wish to pursue net-zero targets.

    Leveraging Governance to Improve Net-Zero Engagement

    4 mins read Blog | Nov 11, 2022 | Harlan Tufford

    Reducing emissions of greenhouse gas may mean that investors engage with companies lacking adequate net-zero targets. This post explores different engagement tools that investors can use to help net-zero laggards catch up to net-zero leaders. 

    Will Nasdaq's Diversity Rule Be Effective?

    Podcast | Aug 11, 2022 | Harlan Tufford

    Investors have started to see the dollars and cents value of diversity on corporate boards and at all levels of an organization. The new Nasdaq rules seek to advance this cause, but will they work? We explore the question and look to a similar Canadian rule on the books since 2015.

    Cannon-Brookes Brokers a Deal with AGL

    Podcast | Jun 3, 2022 | Harlan Tufford, Elchin Mammadov

    AGL Energy, Australia’s largest electricity generator and polluter, abandoned plans to spin-off its coal assets after tech billionaire Mike Cannon-Brookes bought shares to help block the move. It was a continuation of a trend we are seeing: the offloading or spinning off of pollutive assets away from the parent company. We discuss AGL’s attempt, this offloading trend, and where the company goes from here.

    Governance and War and Boeing’s Deja Vu

    Podcast | Apr 1, 2022 | Umar Ashfaq, Harlan Tufford

    As Russia invaded Ukraine, endless briefing documents were thrust in front of company directors. Navigating supply chain disruptions, sanctions and a humanitarian crisis is not supposed to be easy. And as the war continues, investors will find that not all boards are equal. And war aside, Boeing’s board will be navigating a crisis of its own, following the fatal crash of a 737-800 in southern China.

    Say on Climate: Investor Distraction or Climate Action?

    7 mins read Blog | Feb 15, 2022 | Florian Sommer, Harlan Tufford

    Say-on-climate shareholder votes are on the rise globally. Are they a distraction to real climate efforts or an effective way for shareholders to engage management?

    Nasdaq’s New Board Diversity Rules: What’s the Impact?

    5 mins read Blog | Feb 1, 2022 | Christina Milhomem, Harlan Tufford

    The Nasdaq stock exchange’s new diversity rules will impose board-diversity disclosure requirements on Nasdaq-listed companies. These new rules may nudge companies to improve the diversity of the boards or risk facing investor pressure.

    Twitter’s CEO Steps Down

    Podcast | Dec 3, 2021 | Harlan Tufford, Andrew Young

    Jack Dorsey, the eccentric and visionary co-founder of Twitter, announced he was stepping down on Monday. Parag Agrawal, the chief technology officer, will replace him as CEO. We discuss what this move means for the governance of Twitter, for Block (previously called Square), and for the world of tech in general.

    Creeping Crypto: Cryptocurrency Risk and ESG

    5 mins read Blog | Oct 13, 2021 | Harlan Tufford, Nigel Fletcher, Siyu Liu, Aura Toader

    Institutional investors may have more exposure to cryptocurrency risk than they realize. We find that cryptocurrencies were a part of business for at least 52 companies covered by MSCI ESG Research, including 26 MSCI ACWI Index constituents.

    Exxon Mobil: Drilling Down on the Proxy Vote

    4 mins read Blog | Jun 1, 2021 | Harlan Tufford, Ric Marshall

    The historic win of at least two seats on Exxon Mobil’s board by activist shareholder Engine No. 1 signals a dramatic shift in investors’ thinking about climate change — and in their willingness to vote for climate action. But there is a deeper story.

    CEO Compensation: Paying Up for Mediocrity

    4 mins read Blog | Mar 22, 2021 | Harlan Tufford

    Are companies aligning CEO pay with long-term performance? Or, put another way, are directors incentivizing executives to drive the long-term success of the companies they run? We found evidence that pay and performance are misaligned for many U.S. CEOs.