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Pathfinder-backed KiwiSaver to target gender diversity

A new KiwiSaver scheme launching today will only invest in New Zealand listed companies that have at least one female director on their boards.

Wednesday, July 17th 2019, 9:59AM 10 Comments

The scheme – CareSaver - has also committed to share 20% of its investment management fees from its funds with a range of leading charities including the Mental Health Foundation, Forest & Bird and Plunket, with the beneficiary charity selected by the individual KiwiSaver member.

CareSaver is established by Pathfinder Asset Management.

CareSaver will meet the investment and risk objectives of a broad sweep of New Zealand investors through the CareSaver Growth Fund, the CareSaver Balanced Fund and the CareSaver Conservative Fund.

Pathfinder’s Chief Executive John Berry says: “A diversity of perspectives is critical to effective governance. While diversity is broader than gender, those New Zealand listed companies that do not have female directors do not meet our bottom-line diversity criteria. This is not tokenism. All listed company directors must be appointed on merit, however we believe boards without diversity of perspectives are more likely to have blind spots when assessing key long-term business risks.

“Boards must choose the most qualified for a governance role, but unless New Zealand listed companies can demonstrate a commitment to address the absence of women at the boardroom table, they will be excluded as a potential investment for CareSaver. New Zealand is an outlier compared to the UK, US and Australia, and we’d like boards to explain why."

He said CareSaver aspired to be New Zealand’s most ethical KiwiSaver. Ultimately, it enables Kiwis to save for their retirement in a way that’s consistent with their values. At the same time, in line with this investment philosophy, it facilitates positive change for our communities by providing a source of long-term and sustainable funding for leading charities.

Berry said companies that scored high on a broad range of research-based ESG measures were more likely to provide better long-term returns for savers and better outcomes for our planet and its people. For this reason, representation of women in boardrooms of New Zealand listed companies is a focus.

 

Tags: KiwiSaver Pathfinder Asset Management

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Comments from our readers

On 16 July 2019 at 12:48 pm Murray Weatherston said:
Surely true diversity would be 45-55% female, 45-55% male, and 0-10% other.
Only 1 female sounds like tokenism.
On 16 July 2019 at 3:42 pm John Berry said:
Thanks Murray. I don't support tokenism or quotas.
We're asking 'why is NZ an outlier?' 18% of our listed cos have no women on the board vs US (3%), Australia (4%) and UK (0%).
If a company's search ends up with an all-male board we'll ask how thorough and appropriate was their process?
If they can explain it was thorough/appropriate, we may still invest in them. NZ listed companies should absolutely be selecting directors on merit. An all-male board will raise questions from us before we invest.
On 17 July 2019 at 10:42 am Amused said:
A KiwiSaver scheme has the awesome responsibility of been intrusted with client's retirement savings. The specific gender of the directors of the companies it chooses to invest in should be well down its list of priorities when it comes to its fiduciary obligations.
On 17 July 2019 at 11:02 am Murray Weatherston said:
Hi John
Is a "minimum of one female director" (to be ordinarily considered for investment) not a quota? If not, why not?
On 17 July 2019 at 11:09 am Tash said:
Quotas hurt the very people they are meant to help. It should not matter how many men/women/ choose any other differentiating feature you like, are on boards, work in schools, or in the army. The only thing that should matter is are they best for the job! Until everyone stops this silly practice of enforced diversity, differentiation and discrimination will not end.
On 17 July 2019 at 1:23 pm Graeme33 said:
i thought obvious they want to differentiate themselves on some pretty spurious and obscure aspect of ESG.NZ is so small...maybe its simple we have a lesser number of qualified women.All Credit John...I like your work with Charaties..Maybe you are now NZ's No 1. Impact Fund!Graeme Adams
On 18 July 2019 at 2:29 pm Pragmatic said:
This is a great initiative by Pathfinder - congratulations on taking a risk, and standing up for something that you believe in.

Personally I agree with @Tash's comments that quotas are largely meaningless, and often are counter-productive for the community whom they are targeting... although - again - it's good to see a Fund Manager taking a stance.

The biggest challenge will be distribution - as Kiwisaver is largely commoditised in NZ and requires a distribution mechanism / dedicated audience / movement to get over the commercial thresholds. Sadly, the 'build it and they will come' approach is a tough one to get going in a small market such as NZ. I genuinely hope this initiative goes well for Pathfinder, and prompts other Managers to dare to be different.
On 20 July 2019 at 9:02 pm two cents said:
What is the number of women on your board?
On 21 July 2019 at 3:18 pm Murray Weatherston said:
@two cents
John shouldn't have to answer that.
It's on the public record at the Companies office for all to see that Raewyn Yuen Mei Fong is a Director of Pathfinder.
On 22 July 2019 at 8:24 am John Berry said:
Thanks Murray, but to answer the questions fully, 2 of our 5 directors are female. We select directors based on our skills matrix plus fit with Pathfinder's culture and ethos. Thanks

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