Thursday, May 9, 2013

Update: BCE facing resolution on gender diversity

At this morning’s Annual General Shareholders meeting, 5.5% of votes were cast in favour of a resolution brought by Vancity Investment Management to ‘undertake a review of BCE Inc.'s diversity policies and initiatives, using the UN Women’s Empowerment Principles as guidance, to identify and address gaps or inadequacies; and give due consideration to the value to the company of endorsing the CEO Statement of Support for the Principles.’ That’s enough to keep the resolution alive; it needed more than 3% in order to be brought back next year.

A jubilant Dermot Foley, in Toronto to present the resolution, said he met the CEO and some senior executives at the AGM. “Victory is not the percentage of votes we got for the resolution, but the opportunity we now have to continue the dialogue with BCE management”

At present, Mountain Equipment Co-op’s CEO is the only Canadian CEO to have signed the CEO Statement of Support for the Women’s’ Empowerment Principles. However, there are 559 CEO’s around the world who have made this commitment, including those of large American companies such as Microsoft and PepsiCo.

As a signatory to the UN Global Compact and a leader in diversity in Canada, BCE Inc. has an opportunity to bring greater visibility to this initiative, gain competitive advantage in the market for talent and further strengthen the company’s position as a socially responsible corporation.

The Global Gender Gap 2012 by the World Economic Forum states ‘Because women account for one-half of a country’s potential talent base, a nation’s competitiveness in the long term depends significantly on whether and how it educates and utilizes its women.’

Foley feels, “looking at the data from the WEF report, we can see a huge wave on the horizon. Change is coming to corporate Canada. Either you are going to be ahead of it, or you are going to be chasing it. Ultimately, it’s not about winning on a resolution. We want CEOs to sign on to the Principles.”

See details in our post of April 11th.

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