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Investors warn top UK companies about racial and gender diversity | business

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According to influential shareholder advisors, investors are putting pressure on companies to improve racial and gender diversity on their boards ahead of the annual meeting season.

The Investment Association (IA) warns of its second highest level of warning in amber for its 350 listed companies if it does not disclose the racial diversity of its boards or has a reliable action plan to address the issue.

An advisory group representing 250 members and managing Section 8.5 will use the voting rights of its members to encourage listed companies to adopt the Parker Review goal of securing one or more directors from minority backgrounds by the end of 2021. .

IA’s Institutional Voting Information Service (IVIS), a paid service that provides independent information about publicly traded companies, does not give investors recommendations on how to vote, but uses an amber and red top to highlight concerns.

Andrew Ninian, IA’s Stewardship and Corporate Governance Director, said: The British Council should reflect the diversity of modern Britain. As three-quarters of the FTSE-100 companies haven’t reported the ethnic composition of their boards during the AGM season in the past few years, investors are now urging companies to take decisive action to meet their Parker Review goals.

The group is also seeking further progress on gender diversity by providing a red alert for companies with 30% or less female directors. This is a 20% increase in the red alarm threshold over the past few years.

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The group said that for executive salaries, companies that received government support or funded from shareholders during the pandemic should not pay annual bonuses. Many businesses have benefited from government lagging plans or corporate loan plans. And 73 companies with 600 strong FTSE pre-week indices raised new funding from investors between March and November when the Covid-19 pandemic hit.

Investors generally don’t expect bonus payments if the company receives government or shareholder support, Ninian said. The group also warned the remuneration committee not to compensate executives for the reduction in salaries last year by adjusting their pay packages this year.

The climate crisis will be another big focus. Companies in high-risk sectors such as transport, energy, banking, airlines, travel and tourism that do not comply with reporting standards set by the Global Climate-related Financial Disclosure Task Force (TCFD) this year will receive a yellow warning for the first time in time. Investment managers want to see companies report climate-related risks in a consistent, clear and comparable way. The UK government plans to mandate climate-related financial disclosures by 2025.

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