Corporate board diversity database changes hands

CalPERS and CalSTRS officials said Monday that a database of potential corporate board members developed jointly by the two systems now will be owned and operated by Equilar Diversity Network.

The platform — which was developed by the $305.8 billion California Public Employees' Retirement System, Sacramento, and the $193.2 billion California State Teachers' Retirement System, West Sacramento, to increase the diversity of corporate boards and was first launched in 2011 — had been owned and operated by GMI, which provides corporate governance ratings and research.

Terms of the transaction were not disclosed.

Anne Simpson, CalPERS investment director, sustainability, and Anne Sheehan, CalSTRS director of corporate governance, in a joint interview said Equilar already provides other diversity and corporate director data. Ms. Sheehan said Equilar already has corporate clients and executive search firms using their service and the change will allow the CalPERS-CalSTRS database to be used more frequently.

The two also said GMI, which is owned by index provider MSCI, did not specialize in providing diversity information on corporate directors.

The database was first developed by the pension plans with the idea that more diverse corporate boards will lead to better-run companies and increase the value of CalPERS and CalSTRS equity portfolios.

Ms. Simpson said the database has more than 800 candidates representing a wide variety of industries, geographies, races, genders and ages. She said two-thirds of the potential candidates are women, with nearly a quarter having international experience and speaking more than 40 languages.