California State Controller John Chiang wants CalPERS and CalSTRS to encourage corporate boards to include more women and minority members. Mr. Chiang asked the $244.8 billion California Public Employees Retirement System and the $173.7 billion California State Teachers Retirement System, both in Sacramento, to change their current policies on corporate governance to specifically address the issue of diversity when the funds nominate directors, sponsor the development of an issue paper that outlines best practices for corporations, and file or co-file shareowner proposals on board diversity.
Despite widespread acknowledgement that diversity underpins the composition of a healthy board, women and minorities continue to be underrepresented on corporate boards, Mr. Chiang wrote in a letter he sent to the funds Wednesday. Particular areas of concern include the lack of representation of minority women and African-Americans, as well as Asian-Pacific Islander and Hispanic populations.
Mr. Chiang requested that the issue be discussed at CalPERS March 17 board meeting and CalSTRS meeting April 2–3. Clark McKinley, CalPERS spokesman, said the issue will be discussed at a future meeting; CalSTRS spokeswoman Sherry Reser said, Mr. Chiangs letter will receive the serious and careful review it deserves. Its too early now to know the next step.