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ESG, Gender Equity & The Impact on Boards

Change is very much in the air. ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) is becoming an increasingly important screen for investors with implications for Boards and Board composition. Fidelio sees this clearly through our Search, Development and Evaluation assignments. While Environmental and climate change competence is clearly rising up the Board Agenda, in the past week Fidelio has also been focusing on the Social component with gender equity taking centre stage. Fidelio was delighted to present at the recent IR Summit ‘ESG: Green is the New Gold’ in Amsterdam, hosted by Kepler Cheuvreux and Euronext. Our subject was ‘Action to Improve Gender Equity’ and we co-presented with Equileap which provides investors with data and analysis to see which companies are making progress towards gender balance and diversity. To an audience of senior Investor Relations Officers from across Europe – both men and women – Fidelio built the following case:

  • The business case for diversity is strong and there is increasing data available for investors to mine, for example the detailed data set created by the Hampton-Alexander Review.

  • Stakeholder expectations for diversity including from regulators, governance codes and investors are major drivers.

  • And across most developed markets gender diversity has been recognised as important with progress in some areas but much to do in others

    • UK

    • Germany

    • The Netherlands

  • Finally, we reviewed what works and how companies and advisors can contribute to increasing gender balance and diversity in business and Boards:

    • Fidelio contributes through Search, Evaluation and Development including “A Seat at the Table”, now in its 8th iteration

    • Board & Executive Teams – measures that work in a corporate context include a structured approach to (i) appointments (ii) pipeline and succession planning and (iii) networks and role models

    • IR Directors – the IR profession at the interface between Boards and the markets has a key role in articulating best diversity practice internally and externally. IR should also follow best practice and contribute to the pipeline.

For Fidelio the theme of gender equity was also brought home at a very constructive workshop in Berlin reviewing the impact of Frauenquote legislation (the “law for equality of representation in leadership positions in business and public service”, known as “FüPoG” from its German title). We were delighted to have been invited by the Federal Ministry for Family, Seniors Women and Youth to contribute. Fidelio will also continue to promote greater gender balance on UK and German Boards including in the fifth Frauenquote seminar to be co-hosted with CMS in May 2020.

As investors, regulators and governments embrace ESG, Boards and leadership teams will find the business case for diversity increasingly compelling.

To read Fidelio’s presentation on ‘Action to Improve Gender Equity’, click here.


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Gillian - Karran Cumberlege

Head of

Board Advisory

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