NYC Comptroller’s Diversity Push Shows Some Results

Stringer and city pension funds succeed in broadening boards at more than half of 151 targeted companies.

Nine months after its launch, New York City’s Boardroom Accountability Project 2.0 has changed the board policies of more than half of the 151 US companies targeted.

The project aims to change up the board diversity and transparency of the top 151 companies in the New York City Pension Fund’s portfolios—80% of which are in the S&P 500.  This campaign aimed to boost the number of women and minorities on boards. The $193.8 billion city retirement system covers five separate pension funds for public employees, teachers and school staff, police, and firefighters.

Initially, in 2014, it focused on opening proxy access to allow large, long-term investors to nominate corporate board candidates.

Since September, more than 85 companies have improved board diversity and increased transparency on their boards’ procedures. More than 35 are now disclosing member qualifications and details on gender and ethnicity.

In addition, 49 of the selected companies have elected 59 total new directors that fit the campaign’s criteria; and 24 have said they will further diversify their candidate pools for future board searches.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer said that the program is not just about changing corporate board members, but about “setting the best foundation for future generations and enshrining the highest standards for our investments.”

A smaller part of the mission was a string of shareholder proposals New York City Pension Funds sent to six of the 151 businesses. The proposals requested the companies provide more information on boardroom makeup, including detailed data on directors’ skills.  

Five companies agreed to disclose the information. Exxon Mobil was the lone refusal.

The full list of companies in the Boardroom Accountability Project 2.0 can be viewed here

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