Investors File Shareholder Resolutions Encouraging Diversity in the Corporate Boardroom
Boston, MA // February 28, 2013: Institutional Investors continue to advocate for greater diversity in the corporate boardroom in 2013 and have filed shareholders’ resolutions with 20 companies with no women on their boards for a vote at their annual meetings. The investors filing these resolutions are urging these companies to adopt charter language supporting board diversity and institute a practice of including women and minority candidates on their boards.
According to reports by Catalyst, ION and Governance Metrics International, women only hold roughly 12 – 16% of corporate board seats today, a statistic that has been static over the last several years.
The Thirty Percent Coalition Institutional Investor Committee, co-chaired by Janice Hester-Amey, Portfolio Manager of the California State Teachers Retirement System “CalSTRS”, and Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President at the Boston based investment firm Walden Asset Management, is leading this initiative.
“The shareholder resolutions are a follow up to the letters written to the 168 companies during the past several months signed by a wide range of investors and women’s organizations. It makes a powerful statement when investors and women’s organizations raise this issue with leading U.S. companies lacking diversity at the Board level and call for action. The significance of this initiative is magnified when investors follow up with shareholder resolutions for votes at stockholder meetings. This demonstrates how seriously investors take board diversity as part of good governance,” stated Hester-Amey and Smith.
Calvert Investments is historically one of the leading filers of the resolution. “Not only do women and minority directors help companies reach broader markets, but they also bring independent thought and perspectives to the table which may not exist in a homogeneous board,” said Christine DeGroot, an analyst at Calvert Investments. “By incorporating gender and ethnic diversity into their formal director selection criteria, companies demonstrate that they recognize the value of corporate diversity, and assure shareholders that it will remain a priority regardless of changes in leadership.”
Another sponsor, Trillium Asset Management, filed board diversity proposals at four companies identified as lagging sector peers with positive results. “We are pleased to be approaching successful withdrawals with all these companies”, said Susan Baker Vice President of Shareholder Advocacy & Corporate Engagement. All four companies have agreed to define diversity inclusive of gender and race and make diversity an intentional part of board nominee search criteria through revisions to corporate governance documents. At least one company is acting on its revisions and taking constructive steps to broaden its nominee search beyond traditional circles.
One company’s amendment reads as follows: “The board believes that a diverse membership… is an important attribute of a well- functioning board that will enhance the quality of the Board’s deliberations and decisions. As a result, the Board will seek diversity of background, experience, gender, race and skills among its members.”
Beginning in June of 2012 and continuing into 2013, investors and women’s organizations working with the Coalition sent letters to those companies in the S&P 500 and the Russell 1000 that do not have women on their boards. This letter was signed by institutional investors representing over $1.2 trillion in assets under management, along with women’s groups across the U.S.
Signatories to the letter included the Comptrollers of New York State, New York City, the Treasurers of the States of Connecticut, Maryland, Massachusetts, Pennsylvania, Washington State and California, as well as representatives of CalSTRS, CalPERS and AFL-CIO along with various foundations, religious investors and mutual funds and investment managers committed to sustainable investing. The letter cited studies demonstrating a correlation between greater gender diversity among corporate boards and management, good corporate governance and long-term financial performance. Members of the Coalition have been engaged in collaborative dialogue with a number of those companies.
“While 30% female representation across public company boards is our objective, the Coalition is not advocating for quotas,” says Charlotte Laurent-Ottomane, Executive Director of the Thirty Percent Coalition. “This is a modest, reasonable goal when women comprise over half of the workforce, a majority of college graduates and grad students, own 40% of American businesses and are the breadwinners or co-breadwinners in two thirds of American households.”
This press release was published by The Thirty Percent Coalition which is solely responsible for its content.
About the Thirty Percent Coalition
The Thirty Percent Coalition includes major corporations, senior business executives, statewide elected officials, national women’s organizations, and institutional investors including pension funds, labor unions, religious organizations and sustainable investment firms. The Coalition was formed in late 2011 to address the lack of gender diversity in corporate boardrooms and has increased its membership by more than 70% since its inception. The Coalition has set a goal of women holding 30% of board seats across public companies by the end of 2015. www.30percentcoalition.org
Thirty Percent Coalition
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