Corporate Boards Need More Women, Investors Say

Calvert, Pax World and Walden Asset Management want to see more women and minorities in senior management, as well

Calvert, Pax World, Walden Asset Management and a global group of investors are calling on companies worldwide to boost the number of women on corporate boards and in senior management ranks, says Aditi Mohapatra, a sustainability analyst at Calvert Asset Management Company, Inc.

Women “represent 18% of S&P 100 company directors, and 8% of the highest-paid positions in those companies,” Mohapatra told AdvisorOne.com on Oct. 14.

The investors released findings of a survey of 4,200 companies worldwide from Governance Metrics International, “Women on Boards: A Statistical Review by Country, Region, Sector and Market Index, March 2010,which indicated that just 9.4% of directors on corporate boards are women, according to an Oct. 13 announcement from the three companies.

Pax World, Calvert and Walden Asset Management were joined by The Co-operative Asset management, Batirente, Folksam, Vancity Investments, Boston Trust, Etica SGR and FIR Capital, the release stated. These companies also signed a UN-backed “Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI),” which the release says is a “framework to help investors achieve better long-term investment returns and sustainable markets through better analysis of environmental, social and governance issues in investment process and the exercise of responsible ownership practices.”

"We view gender equality and women's empowerment as strategic business and investment issues,” stated Pax World President and CEO Joe Keefe, in the news release. “When women are at the table, the discussion is richer, the decision-making process is better, management is more innovative and collaborative and the organization is stronger.  Because companies that advance and empower women are, in our view, better long-term investments, we are encouraging companies in our portfolios to enhance their performance on gender issues."

Spain, Norway and the Netherlands have adopted laws that require corporate boards to appoint a certain percentage of women to corporate boards—30% or 40%, the announcement notes.

The SEC has created an “Office of Minority and Women Inclusion,” and new proxy rules released by the SEC will compel companies to disclose in their proxy documents “how their nominating committees consider diversity in identifying board nominees,” the release states.

“In order for companies to reach their full potential, they must create an environment in which women are treated equally, where they hold key leadership positions, and are full participants in decision making,” Barbara J. Krumsiek, president & CEO, Calvert Group, Ltd., said in the announcement. “For this reason we created the Calvert Women's Principles, on which the Women's Empowerment Principles are based, and welcome this opportunity to work with other institutional investors to advance gender equality.”

It’s “a real challenge,” Mohapatra says, adding that, “56% of S&P 100 companies have no women and no minorities in their top five positions.”

See a related article, "Women Managing Wealth" on AdvisorOne.com.

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