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Feb 09, 2018

Boardroom diversity: 27 global investors back the 30% Club

JPMorgan Asset Management among the fund firms pressing companies to promote more women to senior positions

Twenty-seven global investors with a total of £10.5 trillion ($14.5 trillion) in assets under management have signed up to a program designed to ensure more women are appointed to senior management roles and to the boards of UK companies in which the asset managers invest.

These include the largest pension fund in the world – Japan’s ¥156.8 trillion ($1.4 trillion) Government Pension Investment Fund – alongside JPMorgan Asset Management, Standard Life and BlackRock, which all support the push for there to be 30 percent women on FTSE 350 boards and 30 percent women in senior management positions at FTSE 100 companies by 2020.

The statement of intent signed by the list of companies was created by the 30% Club, the campaign group for greater participation of women in top corporate jobs.

Pavita Cooper, a member of the steering committee at the 30% Club, tells Corporate Secretary sister publication IR Magazine: ‘The 30% Club Campaign has always been about women and men working together to drive better gender balance in their organizations because it makes good business sense. Encouraging CEOs to set goals to have 30 percent female executive leaders by 2020 has become a key area of our focus.

‘Great momentum has been created behind our campaign, but there is still much work to do, and we’re thrilled that so many CEOs have signed up to our new target for the executive pipeline. This is critical if we are to increase the number of women represented at the top of FTSE organizations.’

The signatories in some cases ‘may choose’ to vote against the re-election of the chair of the board or nomination committee where there continues to be no evidence of board diversity.

Aviva Investors, one of the first signatories after the statement’s launch in October 2016, has said it now raises gender and diversity as a ‘routine item’ in its engagement with companies. Putting this in perspective, since October 2016, Aviva Investors has voted against 82 annual meeting resolutions for diversity reasons.

These commitments come as the Financial Reporting Council is revising the voluntary corporate governance code, with which the majority of large UK public companies comply.

In January, Larry Fink, CEO of BlackRock, which has $6.3 trillion under management, warned companies that they must contribute to society as well as delivering financial performance or risk losing the support of the world’s largest asset manager.