L&G steps up motion in opposition to corporations with few feminine board members | Enterprise


The UK’s largest fund administration group voted in opposition to greater than 100 chairmen final yr, at corporations together with Barclays, Ted Baker and Sports activities Direct, for failing to spice up the variety of ladies of their boardrooms.

Authorized & Common Funding Administration, which manages greater than £1tn in property, greater than doubled the variety of protest votes solid in 2018 over an absence of gender variety. A yr earlier the asset supervisor solely voted in opposition to 37 UK chairmen.

This additionally marked a big rise on 2016, when simply 13 chairmen have been focused for falling beneath targets aiming to see ladies make up 25% of the corporate’s board.

The benchmark meant LGIM voted in opposition to the re-election of Sports activities Direct’s ex-chair Keith Hellawell, Barclays’ chair John McFarlane, and Nicholas Ferguson of Savills property brokers.

It additionally solid a vote in opposition to David Bernstein, the chairman of Ted Baker, which has been coping with allegations of misconduct by its former chief govt. Ray Kelvin has been accused of appearing inappropriately in direction of employees, with behaviour together with “compelled hugs” and ear kissing. He resigned final month however denies the allegations.

LGIM will increase its efforts to affect board variety additional subsequent yr, when it begins to carry corporations listed on the American S&P 500 to the identical requirements as UK firms.

Helena Morrissey, LGIM’s head of non-public investing and the founding father of the gender variety marketing campaign group the 30% Membership, stated: “Frankly, it’s disappointing that we proceed to must make our voices heard as traders by voting in opposition to so many chairs on variety points however we’re not going to go away.

“LGIM will proceed to be energetic on this difficulty till we see boards defending firms from ‘groupthink’ by turning into extra numerous.”

LGIM, which launched its annual company governance report on Tuesday, additionally revealed that it pulled hundreds of thousands of kilos from eight firms and voted in opposition to their chairmen for breaching its local weather insurance policies final yr.

The asset supervisor divested from a string of firms initially included in its Future Worlds Funds, that are lined by LGIM’s local weather change pledge. They have been excluded for points together with poor governance and climates disclosures, in addition to lobbying politicians on insurance policies that threat accelerating local weather change.

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The place these firms have been held in different LGIM portfolios, the asset supervisor voted in opposition to their chairmen at their respective annual common conferences.

These firms included the automobile big Subaru, the Canadian meals retailer Loblaws, the Russian oil big Rosneft and the American vitality supplier Dominion Power.

LGIM’s company governance director, Sacha Sadan, stated that every one of these companies had tried to redeem themselves. “Some flew over and despatched delegations to LGIM to fulfill us, to not argue with us when it comes to our evaluation however [to ask], ‘How can we get again into your funds and what issues do we have to do?’” Sadan stated.

Their potential inclusion in shall be reassessed in June.

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