SOURCE: Pennsylvania Treasury

Pennsylvania Treasury

October 22, 2014 10:20 ET

Treasurer McCord Continues Call for More Women on Corporate Boards

Thirty Percent Coalition Cites Shareholder Returns in Letter Urging Gender Diversity

HARRISBURG, PA--(Marketwired - October 22, 2014) - State Treasurer Rob McCord has joined other institutional investors in writing to about 100 corporations on the Russell 1000 that lack women on their corporate boards, urging them to adopt policies that will increase their gender diversity. The letter originated from the Thirty Percent Coalition, a group that advocates for greater representation on corporate boards by women.

McCord is a member of the coalition, whose specific goal is for qualified women to hold at least 30 percent of the board seats on public companies. The signatories to the letter include elected financial officials from nine states, officers of seven pension funds, and numerous representatives of investment management firms, foundations, religious institutions, and women's organizations.

"As state Treasurer, I have a legal obligation to invest public funds responsibly and to produce the best possible risk-adjusted investment returns for taxpayers. Compelling research demonstrates that businesses with women on their boards achieve better results for shareholders," McCord said, "so this is both fiscally responsible and morally mandated."

The letter noted that women held only 16.9 percent of board seats in 2013. In 2012 and 2013, less than one-fifth of companies had 25 percent or more women directors, while one-tenth had no women serving.

"Numerous studies have underscored the nexus between greater board and management diversity, on the one hand, and improved corporate governance and financial performance, on the other. This is particularly true when there is a critical mass of three or more women on a board," the cosigners said in the letter, while citing data and analyses to support their claims.

"As institutional investors and concerned women's organizations, we are requesting that your Board of Directors take positive action to correct the lack of meaningful diversity among its members, particularly the lack of any female directors. We also affirm the importance of a diverse Board including racial diversity," they added in the letter.

In addition to supporting the work of the Thirty Percent Coalition over the past several years, McCord also amended Treasury's proxy voting policy to encourage companies to have at least three women directors. The policy amendments include support for shareholder resolutions that seek a greater representation of women on corporate boards, encouragement to nominating committees to seek and include female candidates, and encouragement to other state treasurers and colleagues to join Pennsylvania in taking similar actions.

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The complete text of the letter is here. The list of the companies to whom the letter was sent is here.

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