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Governance

NYC comptroller seeks company information on board diversity policies

Scott Stringer

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer announced Friday he has written on behalf of the New York City Retirement Systems to 151 corporations seeking information about their policies for insuring board diversity and independence.

"Diversity isn't a box to be checked — it's a strategy for economic success," Mr. Stringer said in a news release. "We're doubling down and demanding companies embrace accountability and transparency."

Mr. Stringer is the fiduciary for the five public pension funds within the $181.3 billion New York City Retirement Systems.

Mr. Stringer is asking companies to disclose the race and gender of directors. "At present, directors' race and gender is rarely — if ever — released publicly," the news release said. "If disclosed, it would increase transparency and accountability across the market — and push more boards to be diverse and independent."

Jack Sterne, a spokesman for Mr. Stringer, said in an interview that the comptroller is only seeking information as well as seeking to discuss with corporate board nominating committees their policies. Although the city pension system often collaborates with other investors on corporate governance issues, this effort is conducted solely by the comptroller, Mr. Sterne said.

The request for information is an expansion of the comptroller's boardroom accountability project, launched in 2014 and designed to improve proxy access by allowing large, long-term investors to nominate candidates for company board positions.