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Treasurer launches ‘Bringing Diversity on Board’ initiative

4/14/2017, 6 a.m.

State Treasurer Deborah B. Goldberg announced the launch of a new initiative aimed at exploring barriers to diversifying corporate boards as well as strategies that have been successful. Under the “Bringing Diversity on Board” initiative Goldberg’s office will organize roundtable working-group discussions with board members, corporate leaders, researchers and advocates, starting in May. Discussion will focus on particular industries such as health care, biotechnology and pharmaceuticals, information technology and finance.

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To learn more about the initiative, email: board.diversity@tre.state.ma.us.

Following the roundtables, the Treasurer’s Office will publish a report designed to help companies implement strategies for advancing board diversity.

“In a 21st-century global marketplace, maximizing financial success requires improving boardroom diversity,” Goldberg said. “We look forward to studying proven strategies around the country and engaging with a wide range of corporate leaders and experts to help them drive tangible progress on this critical business issue.”

Goldberg says the roundtables will enable an array of stakeholders to engage in discussions not only about how to enhance board diversity, but also about how diverse governance boards help companies maximize profits, expand business opportunities and best serve the interests of shareholders. The roundtables will explore industry-specific challenges related to advancing board diversity.

Goldberg chairs the board of the state’s $62 billion pension fund and has made shareholder engagement and corporate governance key priorities since she took office in 2015. New custom proxy voting guidelines proposed by Goldberg and approved this year impact how the pension fund votes as a shareholder in the roughly 9,000 companies it owns stock in. Under these guidelines, the Pension Reserves Investment Management (PRIM) Board will vote against or withhold from all board nominees if less than 30 percent of the company’s board is diverse with regard to gender and race.

While recognizing the impact of these reforms, Goldberg noted also that voting and enforcement alone cannot change corporate culture and institute the systemic changes needed to accelerate the pace of progress in boardrooms. The roundtables and subsequent report from the Treasurer’s Office will aim to build upon existing work done by government, corporate, academic and non-profit leaders around the country.