The Government Pension Investment Fund announced on 11 November that it has joined the 30% Club in the UK and the Thirty Percent Coalition in the US. Both organisations want to see women directors account for 30% of public companies’ board members.
GPIF said in a statement that it believes the ‘integration of Environment, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into investment process mitigates investment risk. Gender diversity is regarded as one of major Social and Governance factors’.
The statement ends by noting that in ‘ joining these two [organisations], GPIF can expand the knowledge of ESG to fulfill fiduciary duty for our beneficiaries’.
This seems to mean that despite there being no entity in Japan with similar aims to those in the US and UK, the Fund can encourage the companies in which it invests to promote women to their boards, thereby delivering a better performance for the benefit of pensioners whose retirement savings GPIF invests.
This is a circuitous route and is taken up at some length in an interesting article in Citywire. The MSCI study, Women on Boards, mentioned in this story, shows that in 2015 women held just 3.4% of Japan’s company directorships compared with 16.5% in North America and 21.5% in the UK.
The Citywire coverage does not speculate on when Japanese companies are likely to reach the 30% level — which will be difficult in an environment where the vast number of board members are senior employees.
Nor does it touch on the dire lack of the distaff side among GPIF’s senior ranks.
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