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October 18, 2010
Investors Call for More Women on Boards and in Senior Management
by Robert Kropp
Calvert, Pax World, and Walden Asset Management ask 54 companies for greater clarity about gender
balance, and call for increased representation of women on boards and in senior management.
Responding to a survey of more than 4,000 global companies which found that only 9.4% of directors
on corporate boards were women, a coalition of investors whose assets under management total more
than $73 billion called on companies to increase the representation of women on corporate boards
and in senior management.
In a press
release, Calvert, Pax World, and Walden Asset Management stated that many mainstream
investors now "identify gender balance and diversity as a strategic issue in their investment
activity," and asked 54 companies "for greater clarity about gender balance within their
The action by the coalition came about as a result of the publication in
March of a document entitled Women's
Empowerment Principles – Equality Means Business by the United Nations Development Fund for Women (UNIFEM) and the United Nations Global Compact.
Intended to help advance the third of the Millennium Development Goals—to "promote gender
equality and empower women"—in time for the 2015 deadline established by the UN, the document
advances the principles of gender equality, equal opportunity, health and safety, education and
training, enterprise development and supply chain practices, community leadership and engagement,
and transparency in measurement and reporting.
The document itself was adapted from a 2004
report by Calvert entitled Calvert Women's
Principles, which stated, "Well-governed, socially responsible companies are better positioned
to manage risk and deliver long-term value to their shareholders."
In response to the
publication of the document, 106 corporate CEOs have signed the CEO Statement of Support, which states, "A broad
concept of sustainability and corporate responsibility that embraces women's empowerment as a key
goal will benefit us all."
The members of the coalition are signatories to the United
Nations' Principles for Responsible Investment
(PRI). James Gifford, Executive Director of the PRI, stated, "This engagement shows that gender
balance within senior corporate management is not just a social issue but also a shareholder issue.
In an increasingly complex global marketplace, companies that effectively attract, hire, retain,
and promote women are often better equipped to capitalize on competitive opportunities than those
who do not."
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