Three college degrees for every two earned by a man. 85% of purchasing decisions. Nearly 50% of the workforce. And yet, the tiniest of chips in the glass ceilings of boardrooms across corporate America with women holding just 18% of corporate board posts at S&P 100 companies. What’s wrong with this math?
Aditi Mohapatra, Senior Sustainability Analyst with Calvert Investments, McKinsey’s Women Matter study, which found companies with the highest share of women on executive committees outperformed those with all-male executive committees by 41% in terms of return on equity and 56% in operating results.
She goes on to note that Calvert has filed diversity proposals at 55 companies; 46 agreed to change their process. Yet, men still make up 92% of the highest paid positions within major corporations. What can you as a shareholder do?
Take a close look at the companies you own in your investment portfolio, whether you hold them directly or through a mutual fund. Make sure you are voting the shares you own directly and find out if your mutual fund is voting your proxies the way you want and engaging these companies on your behalf.
Sign up to support 2020 Women on Boards, a grassroots campaign aimed at increasing the percentage of women on U.S. corporate boards to 20% by the year 2020. Are There Really Boards With No Women?, Forbes, 8/2/2011.
Another SRI fund very active in promoting diversity on corporate boards is Pax World. During the 2011 proxy season, Pax World withheld votes from, or voted against, 264 director slates for insufficient gender diversity. Of these, Pax World withheld votes from director slates at 138 of the 264 companies because they had only one woman on the board or among the nominees.
According to data published by Governance Metrics International in 2011, board diversity averages only 10 percent – just one woman on the average board of ten people – among the nearly 4,200 companies around the globe.
Earlier this year, Pax World launched a campaign to promote greater gender diversity on corporate boards by encouraging other institutional investors, investment advisors and individuals to adopt similar proxy voting guidelines. For more information on this “Say No to all-male boards” campaign and a toolkit for investors to use in encouraging companies to consider gender diversity on its boards. (Pax World Announces Voting Record on Gender Diversity for 2011 Proxy Season, Accountability-Central.com) Funds endorsing 2020 Women on Boards include:
- Boston Common Asset Management
- Calvert Asset Management Company
- Christian Brothers Investment Services
- Clean Yield Asset Management
- Domini Social Investments LLC
- First Affirmative Financial Network
- The Sustainability Group
- Trillium Asset Management
- Unitarian Universalist Association
- Walden Asset Management
- Zevin Asset Management LLC