Nia Impact Capital Leads Investors to Call for Release of
Workplace Diversity Data in Resounding Vote at Fortinet AGM
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MEDIA CONTACT: Kristin Hull, firstname.lastname@example.org, 510-387-3634
Nia Impact Capital Leads Investors to Call for Release of Workplace Diversity Data in Resounding Vote
at Fortinet AGMM
OAKLAND, CA—JUNE 19, 2020—On Friday, Juneteenth, investors made it clear that diversity matters. The Nia Impact Capital (Nia) shareholder resolution received a resounding preliminary vote of 70% investor support at Fortinet (FTNT) general annual meeting, requesting the release of quantitative diversity data. This extraordinarily high vote demonstrates that investors see the importance and materiality of a diverse and inclusive governing team and workforce. Investors are now demanding that companies both measure their diversity and inclusion efforts and disclose comparable, quantitative data on the effectiveness of these programs.
“Investors have made clear that they consider the way a company manages its diversity and inclusion programs is related to share value,” said Meredith Benton, principal at Whistle Stop Capital, partner to Nia in shareholder advocacy efforts. “This level of unprecedented support for diversity disclosure shows a massive shift in understanding of the materiality of workplace equity.”
Nia's resolution at Fortinet requested that the company report annually on its diversity and inclusion efforts, including the process that the board follows for assessing the effectiveness of its programs and effectiveness, as reflected in any goals, metrics, and trends related to its promotion, recruitment, and retention of protected classes of employees. Nia did not file this resolution as a result of workplace equity concerns specific to the company.
Fortinet’s investors call for greater disclosure builds on Nia’s deep commitment to diversity and inclusion and to moving companies forward in this area. Corporate transparency on diversity and inclusion is generally insufficient, and according to Kristin Hull, CEO at Nia, “Investors need more data on the effectiveness of corporate workplace equity practices.”
Nia’s interest in diversity data stems from a long standing commitment to work toward a more equitable society, while encouraging companies to adopt inclusive and best practices. Nia’s work builds on research linking diverse teams to innovation, to new market identification, to better risk management, and thoughtful decision making. Strong corporate management of diversity and inclusion programs are increasingly seen by the marketplace as a proxy for overall operational excellence.
As cited in Nia's resolution, despite such benefits to corporations, significant barriers exist for diverse employees advancing within their careers. Women enter the workforce in almost equal numbers as men (48%). However, they only comprise 22% of the executive suite; as a percentage of representation, this indicates a drop of 26%. Similarly, people of color comprise 33% of entry level positions, yet only 13% of the c-suite.
Corporate leaders in diversity disclosure are emerging, with best practices including release of workforce composition, promotion, recruitment, retention, and pay data. Six resolutions filed this year by Nia, working alongside Whistle Stop Capital, were withdrawn prior to the investors' annual meetings, as the companies committed to substantive improvements in their disclosure of diversity data. Some of these included: Gilead Sciences, Sarepta, and SunPower. Next up: Tesla, where Nia has a resolution on the proxy ballot for July 7th.
“Guess What? Diversity Matters! At Nia we have been focused on diversity and inclusion since inception,” said Kristin Hull, PhD, founder, CEO, and CIO of Nia Impact Capital. “Now other investors are coming on board to the concept that an inclusive and diverse workforce is material to a well run company. The research has long been there to show that diverse teams are better decision makers, and are more innovative, and have stronger governance. And now the demand from investors on disclosing diversity data is clear.”
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Nia Impact Capital is a women-led impact investment firm investing in forward-thinking companies poised to play a key role in our transition to an inclusive, just, and sustainable economy. We apply a gender equity and racial justice lens across our investment decision-making process and live our values as a women-led team of activist investors. Nia invests in companies with diverse leadership teams that provide compelling solutions to our world’s most pressing problems that are also positioned for growing profits—and solutions—at scale.
Whistle Stop Capital works with asset owners and advisors to increase the expression of sustainability priorities within investment portfolios. Its work focuses on where positive environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) changes link to investments’ outperformance