An investor initiative led by Illinois Treasurer Michael W. Frerichs called on Russell 3000 index companies Wednesday to disclose their boards' racial, ethnic and gender data.
The letter from the Russell 3000 Board Diversity Disclosure Initiative, whose 21 investor organizations have a collective $3 trillion in assets, called on the companies to voluntarily disclose the data "given the correlation between board diversity and long-term performance."
The signatories said their organizations have advocated for gender diversity on corporate boards through proxy voting policies and direct shareholder engagement with companies.
"These actions, now broadly adopted by institutional investors across the world, have helped generate an increase in gender diversity on corporate boards.
"The lack of data on racial/ethnic composition, however, makes it difficult to apply the same tools and creates unnecessary barriers to investment analysis and academic study," the letter said.
The signers said that many of them "either have or are examining policies to vote against nominating committees with no reported racial/ethnic diversity in their proxy statements" and to do more direct shareholder engagement, but called voluntary corporate reporting "the most reliable data source."
Mr. Frerichs and co-chairman Shawn Wooden, the Connecticut State Treasurer. was joined by treasurers and investment officials from Pennsylvania, Oregon, Vermont, New York City, Minnesota, Illinois, Chicago and Seattle, along with Boston Trust Walden, UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust, SEIU Master Trust, Segal Marco Advisors, Marquette Associates, Meketa Investment Group, Wespath Benefits and Investments, Trillium Asset Management, Pax World Funds, CtW Investment Group, and JUST Capital.
The initiative is part of a broader investor alliance promoting more diverse boards, including the Midwest Investors' Diversity Initiative, the Northeast Investors' Diversity Initiative, and The Thirty Percent Coalition.
The letter signers also have their own campaigns to get U.S. companies to report workforce racial, gender and ethnicity data. Scott M. Stringer, the city comptroller and fiduciary of the five pension funds within the $211 billion New York City Retirement Systems, convinced major companies including Amazon and General Motors Co. to report such data.