Methodists to vote on women and pay at company AGMs

14 June 2013

SHUTTERSTOCK

THE Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church (CFB) is to take a firmer line against companies in which it invests when they fail to appoint women to their boards.

The CFB, which manages about £1 billion of assets on behalf of the Methodist Church in England and Wales, issued a statement on Monday in which it said that it had revised its voting policy for the AGMs of companies in which it invests.

"In future, it will vote against the reappointment of all directors responsible for boardroom recruitment in FTSE 100 companies if there are no women on the board and no plans to put that right," it said. "This represents a change to the previous practice."

The CFB is also toughening its stance on companies that fail to report their greenhouse-gas emissions clearly. "At the AGMs of the worst offenders, it will now abstain rather than vote for the key director responsible for reviewing sustainability performance," the statement said.

CFB's senior fund-manager, Stephen Beer, said that many companies were making "good progress" in appointing women to board-level positions, and in reporting greenhouse-gas emissions. This made it "difficult to explain why some companies have no women board members or do not disclose their greenhouse-gas emissions clearly".

The CFB will also be keeping an eye on executive pay at the companies in which it invests. In 2012, it voted against 79 executive remuneration reports, abstained on 40, and voted for 13.

Mr Beer said: "Too many remuneration policies are lax in this area, awarding high pay for indifferent performance. We also consider company policy towards its lowest-paid employees, where in the UK we want companies to adopt the living wage."

The Church of England Ethical Investment Advisory Group advises the Church's investment bodies to challenge companies that award unduly high bonuses ( News, 19 April).

www.cfbmethodistchurch.org.uk

Question of the Week: Is the Methodist policy on board-level women and on remuneration a wise one?

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