Whilst we consider this to be an issue of global importance, we have selected the following focus markets for 2019:
- UK: Building on our efforts from previous years, we will focus our engagement on the companies in the bottom quartile of the FTSE 350 gender balance assessment1.
- Canada & US: Continue to engage and encourage companies to meet the 30% Club’s target. We will use our voting power to drive change at board level where we consider not enough has yet been achieved. We will not support the election of Nomination Committee chairs or other relevant directors on board without requisite female representation and where there is unwillingness to fully address the issue. We have written to our US and Canadian investee companies to highlight our expectations for improved board diversity across these markets.
- Germany: With no market-wide quota for management boards, Germany is lagging other European countries with respect to female representation at all senior leadership levels. We will engage all DAX30 companies, seeking commitment to positive change.
- Japan: With the country holding this year’s G20 presidency, and the continued public policy efforts around gender diversity, the market is primed for investors to push for greater female representation at board and senior management levels. We will seek to ensure that the value of diversity is clearly communicated to selected investee companies, whilst taking the opportunity to better understand challenges faced within the market.
1 2018 Hampton-Alexander Review
Our engagement is backed up by our corporate commitment. BMO GAM is active in the 30% Club2 in the UK and Canada, and a founding member of the UK Investor Chapter. The initiative aims for female representation at board and senior management level to be at least 30%.
Our parent company, BMO Financial Group, is a corporate signatory to the 30% Club, and 40% of its senior leader roles and more than one-third of its independent board seats are occupied by women, with broader diversity targets to be achieved by 20203.
As momentum for more diverse management structures becomes better understood around the world, we will continue to ensure our voice is heard and that companies in which we invest challenge themselves to progress.
3 BMO Group 2018 ESG Report, p. 48: https://corporate-responsibility.bmo.com/wp-content/uploads/2018/12/BMO_ESG_PAS2018en.pdf