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April 07, 2011
Pax World Launches Campaign to Promote Gender Diversity of Corporate Boards
    by Robert Kropp

Citing studies indicating that board diversity improves financial performance, CEO Joe Keefe asks investors to adopt proxy voting policies that encourage the election of women to boards of directors.


A report published by GovernanceMetrics International (GMI) on last month's 100th anniversary of the first International Women's Day found that in the US, "The aggregate percentage of female directors has barely budged from 12.1% to 12.3% in the last three years," despite findings that board diversity improves board oversight, leads to more accurate value assessments, and promotes greater value creation in the economy.

Stating in a letter sent yesterday to 165 mutual funds, pension fund fiduciaries, and women's colleges and universities that "gender diversity has positive financial consequences," Joe Keefe, CEO of Pax World, urged recipients to "consider adopting a proxy voting policy, like Pax World's, that commits your organization to raising its voice in favor of gender diversity on corporate boards."

Pax World's campaign seeks to "promote greater gender diversity on corporate boards by urging investors to withhold support from corporate proxy slates that do not include women directors," according to a press release.

Describing in his letter advances made in promoting gender equality in other countries, Keefe wrote of the situation in the US, "Why then are we not making better progress when it comes to gender diversity on corporate boards?"

"Investors are not raising their voices and insisting that companies do better," he continued. "To the contrary, one can make the case that investors have been part of the problem rather than part of the solution."

According to Pax World's proxy voting guidelines, the firm "will generally withhold from or vote against slates of director nominees…When there are no women on the board of directors, in countries where the average percentage of women on boards of directors of publicly traded companies is generally less than 5 percent. In countries where the percentage of women on boards of directors is more than 5 percent, Pax World will withhold from or vote against slates of director nominees when there are less than two women on boards of directors."

In addition, Pax World's Global Women's Equality Fund invests in companies "that are leaders in promoting gender equality in the workplace and beyond." The Fund is available to both individual and institutional investors.



 

 
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