Investors increasingly interested in gender diversity

Investors are placing a strong focus on gender diversity at the top of companies and voting on the basis of how diverse companies are, according to a survey by the Investment Association.

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Its stewardship survey finds that four in 10 (42%) asset managers made a voting decision based on the gender diversity of a company in 2018, while more than half (56%) actively engaged with UK companies on the issue of gender diversity.

The findings are based on a survey of 59 members of the Investment Association, who manage more that £5.6trn of assets in the UK. The survey also finds that:

  • Asset managers are engaging regularly with companies they invest it; there were more than 7,000 individual engagements with UK companies, with each individual asset manager averaging 158 engagements.
  • Engagement leads to better investor decisions; 80% of asset managers reported that engagement led to better investment decisions.

Chris Cummings, Chief Executive of the Investment Association, said: “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.

“Initiatives such as the Hampton-Alexander Review have highlighted the need for greater diversity at the top of UK PLC. The fact that more than 40% 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.”



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