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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.

SocialFunds.com -- 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 organizations."

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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