- Associated Press - Thursday, March 26, 2015

BOSTON (AP) - Massachusetts’ pension board is considering using its shareholder muscle to press companies to include more women and racial minorities on their corporate boards.

A committee of the Pension Reserves Investment Management Board, which oversees state’s $61 billion pension fund, voted unanimously Thursday to recommend that the full board adopt the guidelines.

Under the new rule, the board would use its shareholder status in a company to vote against all corporate board nominees in that company unless at least a quarter of the nominees are women and racial minorities.

The rule was proposed by Democratic state Treasurer Deb Goldberg, who chairs the nine-member board.

The rule also seeks to use the board’s proxy voting to push companies to adopt wage equality, renewable energy and human rights standards.

“Demanding that companies create diverse leadership teams and confront the threat of climate change are no longer simply admirable social goals,” Goldberg said in a statement. “These reforms will help protect the stability and financial success of the companies that we invest in.”

The PRIM Board is charged with managing the assets of the state employees’ and teachers’ retirement systems, and the assets of local municipal retirement systems that choose to participate in the fund.

Under the proposal, the PRIM board also would use its proxy voting to press companies to, among other changes:

- support proposals that ask companies to stop misleading advertising to youth

- increase health warnings on cigarette smoking

- increase recycling efforts or adopt formal recycling policies

- pressure companies to link the pay of their top executives to certain non-financial factors.

The rule changes include goals for social and environmental issues, customer and employee satisfaction, community involvement and efforts to curb predatory lending.

The full PRIM board will consider the new rule on April 7.

Copyright © 2018 The Washington Times, LLC.

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