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Woman walks through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London.
Image: A Woman walks through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde.

UK Companies Need More Women on Boards, Say 27 Major Investors

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Image: A Woman walks through the financial district of Canary Wharf, London. REUTERS/Afolabi Sotunde.

A group composed of 27 major investors in the United Kingdom has agreed companies need more women in leadership roles. These investors include the largest pension fund in the world and have signed a new initiative.

30% by 2020

The investor group signed up for an initiative that aims to ensure that company boards and management roles are at least 30 percent filled by women by 2020. Representatives for some of the 27 investors took part in the ceremonial opening of the London Stock Exchange on February 2. This represented the support expressed for this initiative.

Among the participants in the London Stock Exchange ceremonial opening included Hiro Mizuno, the chief investment officer from the Government Pension Investment Fund in Japan, as well as Paul Polman, the chief exec at Unilever, Brenda Trenowden, the 30% Club’s global chair, as well as Victoria Atkins, the U.K. government’s minister for women. A roundtable discussion followed the event.

Beginning in 2010

The participants have called themselves the 30% Club UK Investor Group. The campaign is designed to ensure that women have a more fair opportunity to participate in top corporate roles in large companies.

The 30% Club UK Investor Group isn’t something that suddenly appeared this year. In fact, it officially launched its “statement of intent” back in 2016. The group has been working until now to be able to design its goals realistically and appropriately to give them their public launch this month.

Still, the 30% Club found its beginnings back in 2010, when it was originally created by Helena Morrissey. At that time, Morrissey was the Newton Investment Management chief executive officer. Today, Trenowden holds that title. The 30% club already has chapters in countries around the world, including Canada, Australia, the United States, South Africa and Hong Kong.

The UK’s 30% Club

The U.K. branch of the 30% Club, was created based on similar goals in 2011. Today, it is co-chaired by the head of corporate governance North America for Legal & General Investment Management, Clare Payn, as well as the Standard Life Aberdeen governance and stewardship director, Deborah Gilshan.

The goal of the 30% Club UK Investor Group is the use of shareholder power for the promotion of diversity through votes for or against board members.

Note: The opinions expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect the view of Alvexo on the matter.