Pax World Calls On Investors To Say "No" To All-Male Corporate Boards
Pax World CEO Urges Mutual Funds, Pension Funds and Women's Colleges to Withhold Support from
Non-Diverse Boards on Corporate Proxies
PORTSMOUTH, N.H.///April 6, 2010/// Pax World Management LLC, investment adviser to Pax World Funds (Pax World) and a leader in the field of Sustainable Investing, today launched a new campaign to promote greater gender diversity on corporate boards by urging investors to withhold support from corporate proxy slates that do not include women directors. In a letter to some 165 mutual fund CEOs, pension fund fiduciaries and women's colleges and universities, Pax CEO Joe Keefe urged institutional investors to adopt proxy voting policies, like those used by Pax World and other sustainable investment firms, which require gender diversity before an affirmative vote will be cast for corporate board slates.
The Pax letter notes the slow progress that has been made in bringing gender diversity to corporate boards notwithstanding research demonstrating "the nexus between greater board and management diversity, on the one hand, and improved corporate governance and financial performance, on the other."
"[G]ender diversity has positive financial consequences," writes Keefe, and his letter details steps being taken in many countries to improve gender diversity on corporate boards while charging that "the U.S. lags behind."
One reason why U.S. companies are not making better progress on board diversity, claims Keefe, is that "investors are not raising their voices." In fact, "investors have been part of the problem rather than part of the solution," he writes. "After all, it is the companies' shareholders who elect these non-diverse boards each year when they vote on corporate proxy ballots. Too often these ballots are cast down the line with management's recommendations, including blanket approval of director nominees, which means, in most cases, either no women or a slate of nominees where women are grossly under-represented."
"It is time to change this dynamic," says Keefe. "It is time for investors to weigh in and make a difference."
Pax World is urging other institutional investors, investment advisors and individuals to adopt proxy voting guidelines – like those followed by Pax World and other asset managers in the sustainable investing arena – that "withhold votes from, or where possible, vote against all slates of director nominees that do not include women." (Pax World's guidelines actually require at least two women directors in many instances.)
"Can you imagine what would happen," asks Keefe, "if large numbers of institutional investors – mutual funds, pension funds, foundations, endowments – began withholding support from board slates because of insufficient gender diversity? I believe that companies would ultimately listen to their shareholders, and would begin to change. In other words, we can make a difference, and it's high time that we do."
As part of its "SAY NO to All-Male Boards" campaign, Pax World will be sending letters to and meeting with institutional asset managers asking them to join in the effort, and will be working with other organizations to reach out to investment advisors and individual investors as well. Details about the campaign are available on Pax World's web site (http://www.paxworld.com/).
Pax World seeks to promote gender equality through its family of mutual funds, including the Pax World Global Women's Equality Fund (PXWEX), the only mutual fund in America that focuses on investing in companies around the world that are leaders in advancing gender equality and women's empowerment in the workplace and beyond.
In addition to its Global Women's Equality Fund, Pax World includes gender criteria in the sustainability analysis it applies to all its funds and also actively promotes gender equality and women's empowerment through an array of advocacy initiatives. Last year, for example, Pax World sent letters to 82 global companies urging them to endorse and take steps to implement the Women's Empowerment Principles, a joint initiative of the UN Women (formerly UNIFEM) and the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC). In collaboration with the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment (UNPRI), Calvert Asset Management Company and other institutional investors, Pax World is also co-leading an investor initiative focusing on encouraging increased representation of women on boards of directors and in senior management and to promote greater disclosure by companies on gender issues. Finally, Pax has created a Women's Advisory Council composed of nationally known leaders and experts on women's issues to advise the company on gender issues and outreach efforts to women's organizations, institutions, financial professionals and investors.
Keefe published a paper last month entitled "Gender Equality as an Investment Concept," outlining Pax World's views on gender equality and women's empowerment and how they relate to investing. "The smartest companies in the world, in our view, are those that empower and advance women, and we want to invest in those companies," says Keefe.
ABOUT PAX WORLD MANAGEMENT LLC
Pax World Management LLC, the investment adviser to Pax World Funds, is a recognized leader in Sustainable Investing, the full integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into investment analysis and decision making. Pax World launched the financial industry's first socially responsible mutual fund in 1971. Today, Pax World offers a range of investment products including a family of no-load mutual funds, multi-manager asset allocation funds, exchange traded funds (ETFs) and separately managed accounts for institutional investors.
For more information, visit www.paxworld.com.
An investment in the Pax World Funds involves risk, including loss of principal.
1Separately managed accounts and related advisory services are provided by Pax World Management LLC, a federally registered investment adviser. ALPS Distributors, Inc. is not the distributor for Pax World's separately managed accounts.