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Ontario Teachers’ increases expectations on board diversity in 2023 Proxy Voting Guidelines

Press Release

Guidelines advocate for large cap publicly traded companies in developed markets to continue enhancing the representation of women on boards to 40%, up from prior expectations of 30%

TORONTO, Jan. 19, 2023 – Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) has completed its annual review of its Proxy Voting Guidelines (Guidelines). The 2023 Guidelines reinforce existing focus areas for publicly traded companies such as Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) and, notably, set higher expectations for increased participation of women in board roles.

Reinforcing Ontario Teachers’ longstanding belief in the benefits of diversity and desire to see continued corporate progress in this area, the Guidelines advocate for large-cap companies on developed market indices to seek to increase their board gender diversity to a minimum of 40% representation of directors identifying as women, up from the prior expectation of a minimum of 30% set out since 2013.

Supporting data indicates that there is momentum around gender diversity at large public issuers in developed markets. Across most of the developed markets Ontario Teachers’ invests in, the average gender diversity on boards exceeds 30%. In addition, a handful of developed markets including France, Italy and Norway have adopted a minimum of 40% women on boards.

“Although we still consider a 30% goal to be meaningful, we’re raising the threshold to challenge public companies in developed markets to keep improving as we strive for truly diverse and representative boards,” said Anna Murray, Senior Managing Director and Global Head of Sustainable Investing. “We believe improved diversity is key to board effectiveness, leads to better performance and delivers long-term value for shareholders.”

Clear and timely diversity-related reporting continues to be a central focus in the Guidelines. To improve transparency on the progress public companies are making regarding board diversity, Ontario Teachers’ encourages companies to separate diversity disclosure between gender and other forms of diversity. As part of these existing efforts, the Guidelines suggest expanding disclosure reporting of board members to include those who self-identify as non-binary in addition to those identifying as women or men.

“As we look to increase the participation of traditionally underrepresented groups on boards such as women, visible minorities including Black and Indigenous Peoples, 2SLGBTQ+ identified individuals and Persons with Disabilities, evolving diversity reporting beyond the gender binary supports non-binary individuals while also promoting greater diversity on boards,” added Michael Cherny, Director of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion.

The Guidelines continue to ask boards to set and disclose timebound targets to increase the number of board directors identifying as a member of an underrepresented group. Reporting on achievements against those targets and the use of self-disclosure are also encouraged as they demonstrate a commitment to creating boards that are diverse beyond gender.

Ontario Teachers’ regularly monitors current and emerging governance issues and trends to ensure its most recent and informed views are reflected in its Guidelines. For more information, read the guidelines on our Corporate Governance page.

About Ontario Teachers’

Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan Board (Ontario Teachers’) is a global investor with net assets of $242.5 billion as at June 30, 2022. We invest in more than 50 countries in a broad array of assets including public and private equities, fixed income, credit, commodities, natural resources, infrastructure, real estate and venture growth to deliver retirement income for 333,000 working members and pensioners.

With offices in Hong Kong, London, Mumbai, San Francisco, Singapore and Toronto, our more than 400 investment professionals bring deep expertise in industries ranging from agriculture to artificial intelligence. We are a fully funded defined benefit pension plan and have earned an annual total-fund net return of 9.6% since the plan’s founding in 1990. At Ontario Teachers’, we don’t just invest to make a return, we invest to shape a better future for the teachers we serve, the businesses we back, and the world we live in. For more information, visit otpp.com and follow us on Twitter @OtppInfo.

For further information:

Dan Madge
Ontario Teachers’ Pension Plan
Phone: +1 416-419-1437
Email: [email protected]

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