New York City's pension system is asking companies to establish policies to consider women and minorities when hiring board of trustees members and CEOs, New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer said Friday.
"Increasing diversity at the biggest corporations has been our focus from day one — and we're pressing forward with our campaign to change the face of corporate America," said Mr. Stringer, the fiduciary for the five pension funds within the $199 billion New York City Retirement Systems.
"As a pension system, we want to invest in 21st century companies that represent the future — not companies with management teams that look like they're out of the 1950s," he added. "It's time for the business world to embrace these reforms that will lead to decades of progress."
Mr. Stringer outlined his proposal at the annual meeting Friday for the comptroller's Bureau of Asset Management "Emerging and MWBE Managers Conference." The bureau provides advice to the five New York City pension funds, each of which has owns own board of trustees. The advice includes investment policy and strategy, asset allocation, manager structure and manager selection.
Mr. Stringer likened his proposal to the "Rooney Rule," a policy of the NFL that requires teams to interview minority candidates whenever a head coaching, general manager or "equivalent front office" job is open. (The "Rooney Rule" is named for the late Dan Rooney, the former owner of the Pittsburgh Steelers and chairman of the league's diversity committee).
To emphasize the pension system's commitment, Mr. Stringer has sent letters to 56 large corporations that lack a formal "Rooney Rule" policy regardless of the demographic make-up of their boards and/or CEO, he said. The companies include Berkshire Hathaway Inc., AT&T Inc., Delta Air Lines Inc., Ford Motor Co., Verizon Communications Inc., Walmart Inc. Walt Disney Co., and Boeing Co.
If these companies don't adopt a "Rooney Rule" policy, the New York City Retirement Systems "will file shareholder proposals at companies with lack of apparent racial diversity at the highest levels," said a news release Friday from the comptroller.