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Cath Everett

Sift Media

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

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Investors demand FTSE 350 go public on female board diversity

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HR directors could be getting a knock on the door following letters sent to FTSE 350 chairmen by institutional investors demanding that they disclose their plans for employing more women directors.

According to the Telegraph, the seven investment firms, which include Jupiter Asset Management, Insight Investment Management and Co-operative Asset Management, are “keen to understand” each chairman’s “plans and progress” on diversity and have given them until the end of the month – next Friday – to clarify their position.
 
The letter follows revelations at the start of this month that only eight employers had publicly responded to recommendations made by Lord Davies, the former head of Standard Chartered Bank, to lay out their plans – by the end of September – for increasing female board representation. In his Review, published in February, Davies called for all UK-listed companies to ensure that 25% of their boards were made up of women directors by 2015.
 
Denise Wilson, non-executive director and member of the Davies Steering Group, said: “Today, around a third of FTSE 100 chairman have made a public statement of their goals. We expect many more to do so by the end of September. This letter shows that there is a strong investor interest in their response.”
 
In their letter, the investors wrote: “We trust that you have decided to respond and will set and report positive and forward-looking goals within the context of your company’s particular circumstances..If you have not yet responded to this recommendation of the Davies Review, we do hope that you will do so by the end of the month.”
 
They also encouraged recipients to announce the pertinent information to the wider markets using a Regulatory News Service.
 
Helena Morrissey, chief executive of Newton Investment Management, explained the rationale behind the move: “There is a growing body of evidence that greater diversity at board level can improve corporate financial performance,” she said.
 
 
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Cath Everett

Freelance journalist and former editor of HRZone

Read more from Cath Everett
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