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First Sentier Investors signs up to 40:40 Vision

Thursday, 1 October 2020: Leading global investment manager, First Sentier Investors, today announced it has pledged its support for industry super fund HESTA’s 40:40 Vision to increase the proportion of women in senior leadership across Australia’s largest listed companies to at least 40% by 2030.

Researchi conducted by the Workplace Gender Equality Agency and the Bankwest Curtin Economics Centre shows an increase in the share of female ‘top-tier’ managers by 10 percentage points or more led to a 6.6 per cent increase in the market value of Australian ASX-listed companies, worth the equivalent of A$104.7 million.

However, the number of women in leadership has flatlined, according to Chief Executive Women’s latest census on ASX200 senior executives, with just 30 ASX200 companies having at least 40% women in executive leadership in 2020.ii

As an investor with A$215 billion funds under management (as at 30 June 2020), First Sentier Investors believes it is in a position to drive change at these levels through its active ownership.

First Sentier Investors’ Chief Executive Officer, Mark Steinberg, is a member of the 40:40 Vision steering group. Commenting on the initiative, he said, “Gender balance is not just crucial to creating a fair and equitable society, it’s also a business issue. Research shows that having women in leadership positions improves business performance.

“However, it is taking too long to achieve gender parity at the top levels of management, so we need a more proactive approach. As long-term investors, we believe we can have a positive impact on the companies we invest in by engaging constructively with them. 40:40 Vision is part of our firm’s commitment to responsible investment and creating positive change through company engagement.”

First Sentier Investors believes gender balance is an issue that will benefit from a broader industry conversation.

“Industry-wide co-operation allows us to define a ‘new normal’: a set of behaviours that investors and stakeholders expect companies to meet. This is one way to take action alongside other industry participants and builds on the great work our investment teams have done as part of the 30% Club to improve gender diversity on ASX boards.”

As part of 40:40 Vision, the firm is committing to real and tangible actions to make this happen including:

  • Actively engaging with companies on the gender diversity of their executive team
  • Encouraging companies to sign on to the Vision to demonstrate their commitment
  • Raising questions where there is evidence that companies are lagging behind targets
  • Consider voting against the re-election Board or Committee members if companies are failing to demonstrate action on gender diversity aligned with long-term shareholder value.

Mr Steinberg said First Sentier Investors is also focused on diversity and inclusion within the firm.

“As part of the 40:40 initiative, we are committed to “walking the talk” to increase gender diversity in our own firm, and have a number of initiatives in place to achieve this. Achieving a better balance will lead to an increased range of perspectives within our organisation and ultimately, in our view, better decision making and outcomes for clients.”

- ENDS -

Media Enquiries:

Belinda White, Senior Communications Manager

E: belinda.white@firstsentier.com

M: 0408 104 246

About First Sentier Investors

First Sentier Investors manages A$215 billion in assets (as at 30 June 2020) on behalf of institutional investors, pension funds, wholesale distributors, investment platforms, financial advisers and their clients worldwide.

The firm operates as a standalone global investment management business with offices across Europe, the Americas, and Asia Pacific. First Sentier Investors’ expertise spans a range of asset classes and specialist investment sectors focused on delivering sustainable investment success based on responsible investment principles.

Formerly Colonial First State Global Asset Management, the firm was acquired from the Commonwealth Bank of Australia in August 2019 by Mitsubishi UFJ Trust and Banking Corporation, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Mitsubishi UFJ Financial Group, Inc.

Important Information

This press release is intended for information only, aimed solely at the media and should not be further distributed to individual and/or corporate investors, and financial advisers and/or distributors. The information included within this document and any supplemental documentation provided should not be copied, reproduced or redistributed without the prior written consent of First Sentier Investors.

i https://www.wgea.gov.au/newsroom/media-releases/more-women-at-the-top-proves-better-for-business

ii Chief Executive Women ASX200 Senior Executive Census 2020 Report