A good step for gender equality. AXA IM to expand its gender diversity voting policy for both developed and emerging market economies.
Investment company AXA IM announces that they will introduce a 33% diversity target for the developed world from next year. They will also begin to target companies in emerging markets on gender diversity issues.
These major announcements expanding its gender diversity voting policy will enable AXA to increase its influence on companies globally and improve governance standards.
With this new strategy, AXA IM will target listed companies in developed market economies where at least one-third of the Board of Directors is not gendered diverse. This new 33% diversity target will enable AXA IM to hold all companies in which it invests to the same high standards of achieving greater diversity, as well as advancing the issue of gender diversity in the developed world.
In addition to these changes, the investment company will also be targeting listed companies in emerging market economies from this year, as well as Japan, where the Board of Directors does not comprise a minimum of one female director (or 10% of the board for larger Boards).
Sharing best practices
AXA IM has and will continue to push all companies in both developed and emerging markets, to disclose and report against their executive committee gender diversity policy and targets. Companies will share their best practices to explain shortcomings and how they intend to address the situation.
AXA IM will hold companies accountable to these targets and seek to put pressure, through its engagement efforts, on companies that continue to fall short of their defined target or market.
Investors want to engage companies
AXA IM may also use its voting power at a company general meeting to address concerns at companies that fail to provide appropriate disclosure and measures on executive committee diversity and have no credible plan to address the topic.
Yo Takatsuki, Head of ESG Research and Active Ownership at AXA Investment Managers, said: “Studies show that a well-balanced and gender-diverse Board of Directors leads to higher profitability and value creation, overcomes issues of group-think, triggers debates, innovation and leads to stronger diversity of representation across the organisation”.
He goes on to say. “These changes are in line with our belief that we must hold Boards of Directors accountable to best governance standards in their role as guardians of sustainable performance. We continue to build on our voting policies around gender diversity, and make the most of our rights as an investor to engage companies in productive dialogue that makes a tangible difference.”
AXA IM’s gender diversity engagement in 2019 focused on pressing companies to proactively seek gender equality at every level of the corporate hierarchy. This saw an increased number of votes against companies where AXA IM had voted against companies on gender diversity considerations, from 45 companies in 2018 to 245 companies in 2019.
From January to May 2020, AXA IM voted against 230 resolutions at 186 meetings based on gender diversity issues.