General Governance Information
We seek to implement best practices in corporate governance, including robust Code of Conduct, Corporate Governance Guidelines and committee charters, each of which is available on the Company's website at http://ir.qepres.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=237732&p=irol-govhighlights. These documents provide the framework for our corporate governance. Any of these documents will be furnished in print without charge to any interested party who requests them.
Continuous and transparent communication with our shareholders helps our Board and senior management team gain useful feedback on a wide range of topics including corporate governance matters and executive compensation. Accountability to shareholders is not only a mark of our good governance but an important component of our success. In keeping with our shareholder outreach efforts in 2015 and 2016, as noted in the "Governance Update" section above, in 2017 we contacted shareholders who collectively owned in excess of 65% of our outstanding shares. The Board considered investor feedback in deciding to recommend approval of the Declassification Amendment (Item No. 1) as well as decisions related to our executive compensation programs, as discussed in the Compensation Discussion and Analysis section below. We value the feedback provided by our shareholders and look forward to continued, open dialogue on corporate governance issues, executive compensation decisions and other matters relevant to our business.
The Board evaluated all relationships between the Company and its directors and determined that all non-management directors currently serving on the Board (Phillips S. Baker, Jr., Julie A. Dill, Robert F. Heinemann, Michael J. Minarovic, M.W. Scoggins, Mary Shafer-Malicki, William L. Thacker, III, and David A. Trice) are independent under all applicable rules and regulations, including the listing requirements of the NYSE, as set forth in Section 303A.02 of the NYSE Listed Company Manual, and the Company's Corporate Governance Guidelines. The Board also determined that no independent director has a material relationship with the Company that could impair the director's independence. The criteria applied by our Board in determining independence are available on the Company's website at "http://media.corporate-ir.net/media_files/IROL/23/237732/Corporate%20Governance%20Guidelines%20-%20As%20Updated%205-16-16.pdf". The Board evaluates independence on an ongoing basis.
Board Leadership Structure
Based on the Board's experience, considerable engagement with shareholders and an assessment of research on this issue, the Board understands that there are a variety of viewpoints concerning a board's optimal leadership structure; that available empirical data concerning the impact of board leadership on shareholder value is inconclusive; and, accordingly, that there is no single, generally accepted approach to board leadership in the United States. Given the dynamic and competitive environment in which we operate, the Board believes that the right leadership structure may vary as circumstances change.
Currently, our Board believes that a strong Lead Director, in addition to a combined Chairman and CEO allow our Lead Director to provide independent Board leadership and permit our Chairman and CEO to use his knowledge of the Company to focus Board discussions. The combined role of Chairman and CEO also ensures that the Company presents its strategy to shareholders, employees and other stakeholders with a single voice. Our shareholders have demonstrated support for this approach with a strong majority opposing shareholder proposals in 2013 and 2016 to separate the roles of Chairman and CEO. Moreover, during our meetings with shareholders over the last three years, there has been overwhelming support expressed for our current combined Chairman/CEO role.