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Organizational Change
Superior Energy, Lowe's Among Companies Reforming Board Policies To Recruit More Women

Four more companies now will make gender and race diversity part of the criteria for board nominees, thanks to a board diversity shareholder proposal filed by Trillium Asset Management.

Four more companies now will make gender and race diversity part of the criteria for board nominees, thanks to a board diversity shareholder proposal filed by Trillium Asset Management.

Last fall, Trillium asked Superior Energy, Hartford Financial, Zimmer Holdings and Lowe’s Companies to “publicly commit [themselves] to a policy of Board inclusiveness to ensure that women are routinely sought as part of every Board search the company undertakes.” At the time of the filings, each company had either no women or only one woman on its board of directors and none disclosed gender or diversity as part of its board nominee search process.

Several studies have shown a direct link between greater board and management diversity and improved governance practices and financial health, according to Trillium. This has been particularly noticeable when there are three or more women on a board.

Despite the data, while women now constitute 47 percent of the U.S. workforce, they hold only 17 percent of corporate board seats — a meager 3% gain in the past decade.

Trillium says one reason women have not moved into boardrooms as fast as they should is due to the infrequency with which companies look to refresh their board. To change this, companies should to commit to an annual review of board members’ skills, backgrounds and diversity while looking beyond traditional talent pools for board candidates.

“We are pleased with the steps companies are taking to embed gender diversity criterion in corporate governance documents and broaden board nominee searches beyond traditional circles,” said Susan Baker, Vice President Shareholder Advocacy and Corporate Engagement. “If the U.S. is to move up from its 11th place rank among industrial nations on board gender diversity, however, more companies need to act.”

“Board gender diversity should be a top priority of every company’s efforts to deliver long-term value to its shareholders,” she added.

Sustainable Brands and Saatchi & Saatchi S recenty led a discussion on women in sustainability with several other sustainable business leaders, including Kellie McElhaney, Whitehead Faculty Fellow in Corporate Sustainability at UC Berkeley Haas School of Business; Jen Boynton, Editor-in-Chief of Triple Pundit; and Aman Singh, Editorial Director of CSR Wire.

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