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MassPRIM approves new proxy-voting guidelines to protect LGBTQ employees

Massachusetts Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, Boston, approved a new proxy-voting guideline designed to protect lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer/questioning employees who work at the companies in which the state's $71 billion pension fund invests.

The guideline, proposed by state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, impacts how the fund votes as a shareholder in more than 10,000 companies it owns stock in, confirmed Chandra Allard, spokeswoman for Ms. Goldberg's office. It builds on previous reforms introduced by Ms. Goldberg and implemented by MassPRIM over the last three years.

This proxy-voting season, MassPRIM will vote against shareholder proposals that seek to eliminate protection already afforded to LGBTQ employees.

"The pension fund invests billions of dollars in publicly traded companies, and we want to do all we can to protect the employees who work within those organizations," said Ms. Goldberg in the release. "Protecting employees from discrimination and harassment is not only good for the people who work for you, but it is good for business and the bottom line."

The release clarified that the proxy-voting guidelines neither restrict nor determine which companies the pension fund invests in, but rather allow MassPRIM to support and advocate for policies "that advance effective corporate governance strategies and foster long-term, sustained economic growth and fiscal stability" in its capacity as a shareholder.

In 2015, Ms. Goldberg proposed a series of other reforms that MassPRIM's board approved, such as targeting board diversity and wage equality, and focusing on renewable energy, energy efficiency, human rights standards and executive pay.

Ms. Goldberg presented the proposed reforms to MassPRIM's administration and audit committee. The committee took up the proposed changes earlier this month and approved them unanimously.