AXA Investment Managers is expanding its gender diversity voting policy to include emerging market companies that do not have any women on their board of directors.
Starting this year, AXA IM will target listed firms in emerging market countries and Japan, where boards do not include at least one female director. Larger boards with less than 10% female representation will also be targeted.
In developed markets, AXA IM will target listed firms where at least a third of the board is not gender diverse.
The firm will also use its voting power at companies' general meetings to address concerns of failings over appropriate disclosure and measures on executive committee diversity, and that have no credible plan in place to address the issue.
In 2019, AXA IM focused on encouraging companies to proactively seek gender equality across the firms. It voted against approving developed-market companies' reports and accounts or relevant directors where boards were all male. It voted against chairmen of U.K. FTSE All-Share listed companies' nomination committees where less than a quarter of the board was female. AXA IM also voted against the chairmen of nomination committees or relevant directors of U.S. companies where female board representation was lower than 20%.
"These changes are in line with our belief that we must hold boards of directors accountable to best governance standards in their role as guardians of sustainable performance," said Yo Takatsuki, head of ESG research and active ownership at AXA Investment Managers, in a news release. "The introduction of our 33% target for listed companies in the developed world and new policy for companies in emerging markets and Japan, is the next critical step for us as we continue to build on our voting policies around gender diversity, and make the most of our rights as an investor to engage companies in productive dialogue that makes a tangible difference."