27 major investors agree to push for women on boards of UK companies

A group of 27 major UK investors, including the world’s largest pension fund, have signed up to an initiative that targets the percentage of women on UK listed companies’ boards and management roles reaching 30%  by 2020.

Representatives for some of these companies participated in a ceremonial opening of the London Stock Exchange this morning (pictured above), in a show of support for the initiative, which is being promoted by the so-called  30% Club UK Investor Group, a campaign group which promotes greater participation by women in top corporate roles.

The 30% Club group’s “Statement of Intent” was officially launched in 2016.

Among those participating in the LSE ceremony today were Uniliver chief executive Paul Polman; chief investment officer of Japan’s giant Government Pension Investment Fund Hiro Mizuno; Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% Club; and Victoria Atkins, the government’s minister for women.

The event was followed by a roundtable discussion.

The 30% Club was launched in the UK in 2010 by Helena Morrissey,  at that time chief executive of Newton Investment Management, and is now led by Trenowden. Today it has chapters in such countries as Australia, Canada, Hong Kong, South Africa and the US.

The 30% Club UK Investor Group, which has similar aims, was established in 2011, and today is co-chaired by Clare Payn, head of corporate governance North America for Legal & General Investment Management, and Deborah Gilshan, governance and stewardship director of Standard Life Aberdeen.

The Investor Group seeks to promote diversity through the exercise of their power as shareholders to, for example, vote for or against board members. Chapters of the 30% Club Investor Group organisation have now been formed in Australia and Canada.

Over the years the targets have changed, and the goal now is a minimum of 30% women on all of the FTSE 350 boards by 2020, and a minimum of 30% women “at senior management level” in all the FTSE 100 companies by 2020.

The current members of the UK Investor Group, according to the organisation’s website, are: Aviva Investors, AXA Investment Managers, Baring Foundation, Barrow Cadbury Trust, BlackRock, BMO Global Asset Management, Church Investors Group, EdenTree Investment Management, Environment Agency Pension Fund, Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF), Hermes Investment Management, J.P. Morgan Asset Management, Jupiter Asset Management, Legal & General Investment Management, Liontrust Investment Ltd, Local Authority Pension Fund Forum, Local Pensions Partnership, M&G Investments, NEST, Newton Investment Management, Old Mutual Global Investors, Quilter Cheviot Investment Management, Royal London Asset Management (CIS) Limited, RPMI Railpen Investments, Sarasin & Partners LLP, Standard Life Aberdeen and Sumitomo Mitsui Trust Bank.

Also listed on the website are the 15 companies that have signed up to the 30% Club’s Australian Investor Group, and 16 companies that comprise its Canadian Investor Group.


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