Nov 18, 2019

How Wall Street is pushing for more women

Source: ISS Analytics; Note: 2019 is year-to-date figure; Chart: Axios Visuals

Louder calls from big investors and other Wall Street heavyweights have helped push the percentage of women joining boards to a record high. For instance, proxy advisers — who wield a lot of influence in how shareholders vote on issues — say they plan to take board diversity more seriously.

Driving the news: Last week, Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) released its final voting guidelines for the 2020 proxy season. As expected, ISS will "generally" recommend that shareholders vote against certain board members at companies with all-male boards.

What they're saying: Mega-shareholder State Street told Vox earlier this year that it voted against board directors over 1,000 times "for lack of board gender diversity." (Its voting record on other gender-related issues, though, is dubious.)

Nuveen, the investment arm of pension fund TIAA, has also pushed companies to put women on boards — though not at all costs.

  • Nuveen said it did not not support an unnamed portfolio company's first woman board member during this year's proxy season.
  • Nuveen said the appointment of the woman — who was related to two other board members, including the chairman — would have "tipped the board to have less than a majority of independent directors."
"The appointment of a director with an inherent penchant to support management can limit diversity of thought in board discussions and further concentrate the authority of insiders."
Nuveen's 2019 proxy season review

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California's "women quota" in boardrooms faces pushback

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

California’s unprecedented law requiring all public companies headquartered there to have at least one female board member by 2020 is drawing lawsuits.

Why it matters: Pressure to diversify corporate boards has historically come from shareholders and special interest groups. With California's law poised to take effect — and at least three states weighing similar legislation — critics are raising the question of government overreach.

Go deeperArrowNov 18, 2019

Facebook spends $130 million to fund content oversight board

Illustration: Aida Amer/Axios

Facebook said on Thursday that the company has made an initial commitment of $130 million to fund a trust for its global content oversight board. The board was proposed in 2018 as an independent authority to help users appeal Facebook's content moderation decisions.

Yes, but: The company disclosed that it was behind on announcing its board members, of which it could appoint up to 40. Facebook was planning to announce them by year's end, but said, "we've decided to take additional time to consider the many candidates who continue to be put forward."

Go deeperArrowDec 12, 2019

NYT editorial board the latest to back Trump's impeachment

Photo: Jim Watson/AFP via Getty Images

The New York Times editorial board became on Saturday the latest to support the impeachment of President Trump, with an article simply headlined: "Impeach."

[T]he story told by the two articles of impeachment approved on Friday morning by the House Judiciary Committee is short, simple and damning"
— Excerpt from the New York Times editorial board op-ed
Go deeperArrowDec 15, 2019