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More female directors

CPPIB adds to gender diversity push

Canada Pension Plan Investment Board's shareholder-votes to include female directors on Canadian company boards have been successful.

In the 2017 proxy season, Toronto-based CPPIB, which manages the assets of the C$366.6 billion ($281 billion) Canada Pension Plan, Ottawa, voted on shareholder proposals at 45 Canadian companies with no women on their boards of directors, according to CPPIB's "2018 Report on Sustainable Investing." Following the 2018 proxy season, 21 of those companies from the 2017 proxy season have appointed at least one woman to their boards, the report said.

Subsequently, "during the 2018 (proxy) reporting period, we voted at shareholder meetings for 22 Canadian public companies with no female directors. We made efforts to work with these companies before voting against their directors," the report said. "We will continue monitoring developments and improvements in the representation of women directors on the boards of our investee companies."

CPPIB Chairwoman Heather Munroe-Blum is a founding member of the 30% Club (Canada), a group of business leaders seeking better gender balance on corporate boards and in executive management. Mark Machin, CPPIB president and CEO, joined the 30% Club (Canada) when he took the lead post at CPPIB in 2016.

"It's crucial for companies in which we invest capital to assemble boards that reflect the full range of talent available," Mr. Machin said in a news release accompanying the report. "If companies don't take the required action to achieve the board effectiveness that today's business environment requires, it falls to investors to provide a nudge, and when necessary, a push."