By Simon Jessop
LONDON – British asset manager abrdn will take a tougher line at annual meetings of U.S. companies that have poor levels of ethnic and gender diversity on their boards of directors, it said on Monday.
Abrdn, which manages around 465 billion pounds ($608 billion), said it would vote against the nomination committee chairs at any S&P 1500 or Russell 3000 company that does not have at least one racially or ethnically diverse board member.
In addition, abrdn said it would expect women to make up at least 25% of the board at all large-cap companies, rising to 30% in 2023.
“We know that making progress in diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) is critical in building long-term value for our clients, customers and shareholders,” abrdn said in a statement.
“We will continue to engage with our companies to improve their diversity, expand our guidelines further, and vote against companies where necessary.”
Last year, abrdn said it voted against company management on DEI-related matters 165 times, globally.
Abrdn said it had agreed to publish its own U.S. workforce diversity data and would push all of its investee companies to follow suit.
“This effort in transparency allows us to hold companies accountable and measure their progress toward greater diversity,” it said.
($1 = 0.7642 pounds)