Gender Diversity Climbs Up Priority Ladder For Managers’ Voting Decisions

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More than half of the asset managers actively engage with the companies in the United Kingdom over gender diversity as boardroom equality starts to drive the management’s voting decisions.

The Investment Association revealed that four out of 10 asset managers said that they had made a voting decision based on the gender diversity of the firm as it revealed that 80 percent of the respondents of the survey believe that engagement results in better investor decisions.

The news was released a week after a government-backed research discovered that only four FTSE 100 firms’ boards feature at least as many women as men and five FTSE 350 companies have male-only board members.

Chris Cummings, the chief executive of the Investment Association, stated: “Our members play a key role as stewards of the £7.7trn they manage on behalf of savers and investors. With more than 30 staff in every firm dedicated to stewardship activities, and with each asset manager making more than 150 engagements each so far this year, it is clear that the industry is taking its stewardship responsibilities seriously.”

He added: “Investors clearly want to see more women in the boardroom and senior management positions, and our study shows that companies who are lagging behind on gender diversity should expect investors to take action if they do not see enough progress.”

He continued: “Initiatives such as the Hampton-Alexander Review have highlighted the need for greater diversity at the top of UK PLC.”

Cummings noted: “The fact that more than 40 per cent of asset managers took a voting decision based on gender diversity shows that they are reflecting those concerns when it comes to engaging with companies and voting at their AGMs. Companies should expect greater scrutiny on diversity issues in the future, and should be acting now to address the imbalances they have at the top.”

The stewardship survey of the Investment Association is based on the responses from 59 firms and is covering the first six months of the year.