Posted on April 29, 2021

Investors Pressure Corporate America with Record Diversity Push

Saijel Kishan, Bloomberg, April 22, 2021

Shareholders are making their biggest push yet into getting corporate America to look more like America.

A record 30 resolutions focusing on diversity, equity and inclusion will be on the ballots at upcoming annual company meetings, according to data compiled by Bloomberg Intelligence. Racial audits have emerged as a new proposal filed with Wall Street banks and other companies, including Inc.

“Hands down, diversity was thrust to the fore,” said Heidi Welsh of the Sustainable Investments Institute, a Boonsboro, Maryland-based research firm. “When you see more companies move on it, the bad actors will be left standing out.”

Corporate executives are facing increased demands from investors, customers and employees to ensure their workforces — particularly in senior management — reflect the overall diversity of the U.S. population. The push comes in wake of the biggest civil rights protests in decades and as qualified minorities have often lost out on career opportunities and promotions to White men. {snip}

Social issues, which include topics such as pharmaceutical prices, worker pay and scrutiny of supply chains, have garnered a total of 92 resolutions for this year’s proxy-voting season, according to the Bloomberg Intelligence. {snip}


{snip} BlackRock Inc., the world’s largest asset manager, and Vanguard Group Inc. said they will vote against directors this year who fail to act on diversifying their boards and workforces. And starting in 2022, leading proxy-advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services said it will recommend voting against directors of all Russell 3000 or S&P 1500 companies whose boards aren’t diverse enough.

BlackRock Chief Executive Officer Larry Fink conceded that his firm wasn’t moving as quickly as he wanted on diversity, saying that he judges his firm harshly on the topic. As such, the world’s largest money manager agreed to perform an independent racial audit to see if, and how, its business model may be contributing to systemic racism.