As Sallie Krawcheck enters her second month of ownership of the 85 Broads global women’s network, the former Merrill Lynch and Citigroup banker is looking to help more women have an impact on the world of business and finance by taking a seat at the corporate board table.
On Friday, Krawcheck welcomed Pax World CEO Joe Keefe before a group of about 30 female movers and shakers at New York’s Cornell Club and asked him to talk about his socially responsible mutual fund group’s efforts to “lean on” corporate boards and pressure them into offering more board seats to women.
Both Krawcheck and Keefe referenced Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg’s nationwide campaign encouraging women to “lean in” to their ambitions, but they also joined Daily Beast Editor in Chief Tina Brown’s call to women to demand gender equality and “lean on corporations to change the pitiful representation of women in boardrooms.”
Drawing on facts gathered by Kathleen McQuiggan, Pax World’s senior advisor on gender diversity initiatives, Keefe said that two-thirds of U.S. wealth will be in American women’s hands by 2030, yet women currently earn 77 cents for ever dollar a man earns and only 16% of Fortune 500 corporate board seats belong to women.
“It’s more apparent than ever that we will need to lean on companies to make any progress,” Keefe said before urging the 85 Broads global network of approximately 30,000 women to lean on their financial advisors and 401(k) plan sponsors to pressure companies for fairer board representation. “As shareholders, we have more power than we utilize.”
Pax World has adopted a proxy voting guideline under which the fund firm will not support any slate of directors that does not include women. In most instances, Pax World will not support a full board slate unless it contains at least two women. The firm’s goal is to see women sitting in at least 30% of corporate boardroom seats by 2015, Keefe said.
About half of Pax World’s portfolio managers and salespeople are women, according to Keefe. In addition, the Portsmouth, N.H.-based fund firm offers the $40 million Global Women’s Equality Fund (PXWEX), which yielded a 12.67% return in 2012, according to Morningstar Inc.