Corporate Diversity Advancements Mirror Those of Broader Society in 2012: Headway but Plenty of Room for Continued Improvement
Calvert diversity report shows steady but slow progress on corporate diversity, highlighting need for continued shareholder advocacy
While more women were elected to the U.S. Senate in 2012 than ever before, and, while major strides were made toward LGBT equality in states across the country, few would argue that equality has been fully achieved. Likewise while there has been continued progress on diversity in corporate America (with crucial support from investors), the pace of change remains far too slow. There were both important advancements with 50 companies that Calvert has engaged to date publicly committing to create more diverse boards, but also continuing frustrations with the still uneven representation of women and minorities in the boardrooms and executive suites of the largest companies in the United States. Calvert’s 2012 diversity report, Examining the Cracks in the Glass Ceiling, slated for release in early 2013, benchmarks the diversity performance of the S&P 100. As the New Year begins we draw inspiration from leading companies such as Coca-Cola Company, PepsiCo., and American Express Corp, all of which continue to raise standards for inclusion in corporate America because they recognize that diversity is acritical component of good corporate governance and competitive advantage.
Board Diversity a Continued Priority for Calvert
Calvert filed six shareholder resolutions for the 2012 proxy season on board diversity including four lead filings with Urban Outfitters, American Financial Group, Pioneer Natural Resources, and Under Armour, plus two co-filings with Discovery Communications and True Religion Apparel. Proposals with five of the six were successfully withdrawn after each company added specific considerations of diversity in race and gender to their desired director profiles. The final resolution with Urban Outfitters was presented at the annual meeting in May,earning 39% support, up from 23% in 2011.
Looking ahead to the 2013 proxy season, Calvert will again file board diversity proposals with several companies, joined by institutional and faith based investors. As part of this engagement and consistent with our view that board diversity is a matter of good corporate governance, Calvert is working with like-minded investors to call upon several companies to take on important governance reforms such as separation of Board Chair and CEO, majority voting in director elections, and elimination of classified boards along with board diversity. As we bring board diversity into conversations alongside more traditional governance issues, we will highlight the benefit of diverse perspectives on customers, markets and workforces that will be the competitive battlegrounds of 21st century business success.
The Calvert Women’s Principles Continue to Define Best Practice
The Calvert Women’s Principles continue to be adapted and implemented in companies worldwide through two distinct initiatives. The Women’s Empowerment Principles, adapted from the Calvert’s Women’s Principles by UN Women and the UN Global Compact, have now reached over 500 signatories to the CEO Statement of Support, demonstrating the growing global reach of the CWP. Calvert participated in the first Women’s Empowerment Principles’ Leadership Group meeting in March which brought together 30 leading companies, investors, and women-focused civil society organizations to discuss how to encourage more companies to sign the WEP and focus on implementation. Calvert also continued to serve in an advisory capacity to the San Francisco Gender Equality Principles Initiative in partnership with the San Francisco Department on the Status of Women and Verité as that Initiative–also based on the Calvert Women’s Principles–entered its fifth year. The focus of this effort is to engage Bay Area companies to develop gender equitable workplaces and also to provide a means for companies to internally assess the efficacy of their own diversity strategies.
2012 Diversity Report: Examining the Cracks in the Glass Ceiling
In June 2012, Calvert began work on an update to Calvert’s 2010 diversity report, Examining the Cracks in the Glass Ceiling. Using our ratings methodology established in 2010, Calvert researched diversity practices and performance of companies in the S&P 100 universe. Overall, we found that, while companies are moving slowly toward improved diversity performance, they are making progress in implementing diversity policies and programs that target the diverse workforce, especially LGBT employees and families. Our 2012 report also highlights emerging trends in diversity disclosure practices, boardroom compositions, and sector and industry practices.
Our 2012 diversity report is scheduled for publication in early 2013 and will include ratings and benchmarking for all companies in the S&P 100, and will highlight sector leaders. Consistent with our advocacy approach we will use this data to update the evolving definition of best practice and to encourage companies to bolster their own diversity initiatives and embrace the new inclusion standards being set. For more information on the upcoming diversity report, please contact Christine De Groot at Christine.DeGroot@Calvert.com
Significant Progress on LGBT Equality
There were important strides toward LGBT equality in 2012. In February Calvert wrote to 19 companies to encourage them to publicly support Washington State's marriage equality legislation which passed. In October Calvert contacted 15 Maryland-based companies asking for public support of the state’s Civil Marriage Protection Act, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters in the November election. Calvert was joined in this initiative by seven local businesses and organizations, and highlighted as a Business for Marriage Equality by the group Marylanders for Marriage Equality.