Diversity in the boardroom

The Anglican Investment arm warns companies to actively pursue gender and ethnic diversity in leadership positions by promoting these norms at upcoming shareholder meetings.

Church representatives, who run the religious group’s £ 8.7 billion fund, will begin sending out letters of demand to some of the most «problematic» companies in the fund’s investment portfolio by mid-February.

The team develops a special list of enterprises (both public and private), which will be recommended to change their recruiting course. Bess Yoffe (Bess Joffe), head of the fund’s Responsible Investment, announced plans to file protest votes at AGMs if listed companies fail to meet requirements.

«I think that you will see the result of our influence already in 2021», – she told The Guardian.

The fund previously voted against companies with weak climate change policy and all-male teams managers. Last year, Prudential’s board of directors was criticized for «unacceptably low» the number of women in its composition. Got it and energy giant Exxon, in connection with their disclosure of harmful emissions to the environment.

A new focus on gender and ethnicity is part of a three-year ethical investment plan being developed by Joffe’s team. 

Church of England Investment Fund to Fight for Gender and Ethnic Diversity in Boards of Directors

«We thought about the need to change our attitude towards two global aspects – respect for the planet and respect for its inhabitants.. I think this fits very well with the overall mission of the church.», – she said.

Joffe, who previously held senior positions at Goldman Sachs and Hermes, said the move to the above strategy should promote a holistic approach to how companies take responsibility for protecting life on Earth and making the planet prosperous..

«Ethnic diversity is not a priority for companies today. They must play their part in improving the lives of people who have historically been deprived of voting rights and the benefits of society, as well as all those most affected by the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic.», – she points out.

Biggest UK Fund Manager, L&G, has already promised to vote against everyone «whites» of boards of directors that will not be able to diversify their leadership teams by 2022. February 2020 Parker review showed that only 178 out of 2,625 directorships according to the FTSE 350 index were held by representatives of other ethnic groups.

Church of England Investment Fund to Fight for Gender and Ethnic Diversity in Boards of Directors

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