Thursday, April 11, 2013

BCE facing resolution on gender diversity

Vancity Investment Management has filed a shareholder resolution on gender diversity and the UN Women's Empowerment Principles with telecom giant BCE. 

The resolution, filed on behalf of the IA Clarington Inhance Monthly Income SRI Fund, asks BCE's board of directors to undertake a review of BCE diversity policies and initiatives, using the UN Women's Empowerment Principles as guidance, to identify and address gaps or inadequacies.

"As a signatory to the UN Global Compact, BCE Inc. has an opportunity to bring greater visibility to this initiative, increase the company's profile on diversity initiatives, gain competitive advantage in the market for talent and further strengthen the company's position as a socially responsible corporation," says Vancity's proxy alert on the resolution.

The resolution also asks BCE to consider endorsing the CEO Statement of Support for the Empowerment Principles.

CEOs from more than 400 companies have endorsed the principles, however no CEO from a Canadian publicly traded company has signed the statement of support. "Signing and endorsing the Principles will allow BCE to demonstrate leadership in this area and help distinguish the company," Vancity says.

In the 2013 Management Information Circular, BCE responds to the diversity proposal by listing a number of initiatives and programs including support for the UN Global Compact and concludes by stating:

"We believe BCE has a strong corporate responsibility program, addressing and promoting diversity in our business practices, governance commitments and programs that support the intent of the UN Women's Empowerment Principles."

However, the board has recommended voting against the proposal, which goes to a shareholder vote at BCE's annual general meeting on May 9.  


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