Big investors push for more women on boards

clock • 2 min read

Global investors have opened the market today at the London Stock Exchange as part of an initiative aimed at promoting more women to the senior management roles and boards of UK companies in which they invest.

Paul Polman, CEO of Unilever, Hiro Mizuno – CIO of the Japanese Government Pension Investment Fund (GPIF) – and Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% Club, are some of those investors who have signed up to an initiative to push specifically for 30% of women on both FTSE 350 boards and in senior management positions at FTSE 100 companies by 2020.

The 30% Club UK Investor Group, a campaign group for greater participation of women in top corporate roles, has grown from seven to 27 members and currently manages £10.5trn in assets with an increasing presence in Australia, Canada and the US.

Brenda Trenowden, global chair of the 30% Club, said: “I am delighted with the momentum that our campaign has achieved over the past year – both with our tremendous take up of FTSE350 CEO Members and with the expansion and very active engagement of our investor group.  Members are collectively engaging with listed FTSE companies on gender and broader diversity as a stewardship and governance issue and the companies have responded well to the constructive dialogue. We want to highlight the companies that are doing well in this space and proactively nudge those who need more encouragement.”

Deborah Gilshan, co-chair of the 30% Club UK Investor Group, added: “The UK Investor Group is a combination of asset owners, asset managers and charities, so we represent investors across the investment spectrum. With more and more members coming on board, our engagement with companies becomes ever more substantial and companies are embracing it.”

Emma Howard Boyd, chair of the Environment Agency and Chair of the Environment Agency Pension Fund’s Investment committee, stated: “The world is changing fast and businesses need to stay one step ahead to succeed. Increasing diversity is essential for the survival of businesses in 2018, let alone in the coming years, so investors who engage with corporate boards about their diversity policies are demonstrating sound financial judgement.”