Twenty-seven global investors with £10.5 tn ($15 tn) of assets under management have now signed up to a program to promote more women to senior management and to the boards of UK companies in which they invest.
These include the largest pension fund in the world – Japan’s ¥156.8 tn Government Pension Investment Fund – as well as JPMorgan Asset Management, Standard Life and BlackRock, all of which support the push for 30 percent female representation on FTSE 350 boards and 30 percent female representation 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.
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, chief executive of BlackRock, which has $6.3 tn 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.
Pavita Cooper, a member of the steering committee at the 30% Club, tells IR Magazine: ‘The 30% Club Campaign has always been about women and men working together to drive better gender balance in their organisations because it makes good business sense. Encouraging CEOs to set goals to have 30% 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 organisations.’