The Thirty Percent Coalition Commends 151 Companies Adding Women to their Boards of Directors following its “Adopt a Company Campaign”

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Investors Applaud Significant Shareholder Votes

 

 Fort Washington, PA – June 29, 2017 – Representing more than $3.2 trillion in assets under management, the Thirty Percent Coalition’s institutional investors are committed to increasing diversity in the public company boardroom. Following the Coalition’s Adopt a Company Campaign which began in January 2012, 151 companies have now appointed a woman to their boards. The appointment of a woman, and in many instances a woman of color, was a first for most of these companies.

 

Thirty-one new companies diversified their boards, representing a 27% increase since the Coalition last reported in October 2016. Contributing to this increase, Coalition members California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust (Michigan) added to the growth of diverse boards through their state initiatives with regional publicly listed companies.

A public commitment to board gender, racial, and ethnic diversity and to board refreshment is critical to investors. The Coalition’s members have worked together sending letters to companies, meeting with Nominating and Governance Committees and filing shareholder resolutions with companies, all to encourage greater board diversity. This past proxy season, over 35 resolutions were filed urging action on board diversity. The resolutions led to numerous agreements and 26 of the proposals were withdrawn. When resolutions did go to a vote, there was significant response by investors leading to affirmative votes. Examples include a proposal receiving over 84% in favor of improving board diversity at Hudson Pacific Properties, and 63% in favor of a resolution at the Cognex Corporation annual meeting. Investors are looking forward to a continued collaboration with these companies in their diversity efforts.

Thirty Percent Coalition investors continue to successfully work with publicly listed companies, urging them to build diverse boards inclusive of gender, race and ethnicity. Diversity on boards of directors, as well as in senior and mid-level management, is an indicator of good corporate governance and highlights the growing evidence that diversity is good for business. This business case is supported by research that correlates a diverse board with long-term company performance. The Coalition’s institutional investors continue pressing companies to add additional women, even if the company has already appointed one woman. Today, unfortunately, women represent less than 20% of S&P company boards.

The Thirty Percent Coalition’s Institutional Investor initiative is co-chaired by Anne Sheehan, Director of Corporate Governance, CalSTRS and Timothy Smith, Senior Vice President at the Boston-based investment firm Walden Asset Management.

“Our investor outreach continues to be increasingly successful. This collaborative approach is making an identifiable difference. We have been encouraged by the substantial increase in investor votes for diversity resolutions that includes companies like BlackRock and State Street, who recently publicly championed expansion of women on boards. This sends a strong signal to companies with a lack of diversity on their boards that now is the time for change,” said Anne Sheehan, co-chair of the Thirty Percent Coalition’s Institutional Investor Committee.

“We appreciate the positive steps taken by the companies who transformed their board composition responding to their investors and other stakeholders. We congratulate them on this progress,” said Tim Smith, co-chair of the Thirty Percent Coalition’s Institutional Investor Committee.

The Thirty Percent Coalition continues to reiterate a “Call to Action” for companies across the US to institute best-practice policies in the director nominating process. The Coalition is asking companies to:

  1.  Strengthen Nominating and Corporate Governance policies by embedding a commitment to diversity inclusive of gender, race, ethnicity (within their Nominating and Governance Charter and/or Corporate Governance Principles);
  2. Include women and minority candidates in the initial list of candidates from which management-supported director nominees are chosen (also known as the Rooney Rule);
  3. Consider, as appropriate, persons from both non-executive corporate positions and non-traditional environments such as government, academia, and non-profit organizations.
  4. Report on progress and challenges experienced.

CalSTRS Shareholder Resolution               UAW Trust Shareholder Resolution


 

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