During this time of change and transition for our Company, I am grateful for the trust you place in me as your Lead Independent Director. Now in my fourth year, I continue to be pleased with what this Board is accomplishing in working with management toward the common goal of long-term value creation for our shareowners. I would like to share some of the steps your Board has undertaken in the past year.
In our ongoing role overseeing the Company’s long-term business strategy, our Board continued giving overall guidance for the Company’s business transformation to a total beverage company.
For our Board, the most important part of the business transformation is ensuring an orderly and seamless management succession. In December 2016, we announced our intention to have James Quincey succeed Muhtar Kent as CEO. This change took place on May 1, 2017. The Board’s confidence in James as the Company’s long-term leader has been continually reinforced, as has our confidence in the very capable management team James has put in place.
We continue to believe that in order to do our jobs effectively as Directors, we must understand what our shareowners think. Through our year-round shareowner engagement program, we spend a great deal of time discussing the feedback received from shareowners about an array of issues. Over the years our Board has maintained a commitment to good governance practices, and we have made signiﬁcant progress against key benchmarks that our investors have indicated are important to them. Some of these include the annual “say on pay” advisory vote; a robust director evaluation process; a proxy access right; a shareowner right to call special meetings and a long-standing commitment and focus on sustainability tied to our business strategy.
Perhaps one of the most important governance exercises we undertake is ensuring that this Board is comprised of high-integrity, highly capable Directors, equipped to oversee the business and represent the interests of shareowners. We are proud of our Board. We are a well-functioning group of Directors who possess the right mix of perspectives, skills and experiences to work closely with management to help this business succeed. We are pleased to nominate two outstanding new Director candidates for election at the upcoming April meeting: Caroline Tsay and Christopher Davis.
As we think about Board composition, the factors and variables we consider are many. We have had a particular focus on gender diversity. Women make up 31% of our Board nominees, and two women are chairs of two important committees. Muhtar, the rest of the Board and I are committed to continuing to increase these numbers.
Finally, we assure you, our shareowners, that we will continue to seek feedback and make every effort to effectively represent your interests. Our goal is to give shareowners a better line of sight into the boardroom and input into the decisions we make.
Thank you for your support and for your interest and investment in this Company.