Canadian investors want gender pay equity and more women in corporate leadership

VANCOUVER, June 1, 2017 /CNW/ - A strong majority of Canadian investors want to see women treated fairly in the workplace, including pay equity with men and more women in leadership roles, according to a new research report released today.

The report, commissioned by OceanRock Investments Inc., and published by the Responsible Investment Association (RIA), shows that:

  • 82 per cent of investors believe women should be better represented on corporate boards in Canada.
  • 92 per cent believe women and men should receive equal pay for equal work.
  • 76 per cent believe companies should be required to disclose how much they pay women compared to men.
  • 55 per cent would be willing to sell their investments if they learned that a company they are invested in does not pay men and women equally for equal work and another 25 per cent would consider selling.

"These findings demonstrate clearly that Canadian investors will no longer tolerate gender pay discrimination and want more gender diversity on corporate boards," says OceanRock CEO Fred Pinto.

The RIA report comes four days before next Monday's annual meeting of Restaurant Brands International (RBI) (TSX: QSR) at which OceanRock, an RBI shareholder through its Meritas® SRI Funds, will propose a resolution asking RBI to adopt and publish a policy and plan to improve gender diversity at board and executive level. RBI is the parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King.

A similar proposal by OceanRock at last year's RBI annual meeting was supported by a majority of independent shareholders. The company subsequently added one woman to its board—the daughter of another director who is the founder of the hedge fund that is RBI's majority shareholder.

Pinto says Canada has a lackluster record when it comes to gender parity in corporate leadership. He points out that data collected by securities regulators shows that women hold only 12 per cent of seats on corporate boards in Canada, and 45 per cent of publicly traded companies have all-male boards.

"Having more women on boards and in senior management is not only about gender equity; it also makes good business sense," he adds. "A diversity of views from independent directors is a check against group-think and improves corporate governance. It's good for the company and, as we see in the latest RIA research, it's what investors want."

The RIA report points to recent data from Statistics Canada that shows women working full time in Canada earn 74 cents for every dollar that men make in annual earnings, and that hourly-paid women earn just 87 cents on the dollar compared to men.

RIA Chief Executive Officer Deb Abbey says governance—including gender pay equity and leadership diversity—are now well entrenched as key factors in responsible investing in Canada, along with environmental and social considerations.

Responsible Investment is the integration of environmental, social and governance factors (ESG) into the selection and management of investments. There is solid evidence that Responsible Investment reduces risk1 and leads to superior long-term financial returns.2

However, RIA's survey data indicates that while the vast majority of Canadian investors are interested in Responsible Investing, most know little or nothing about it.

"A strong majority told us that they are more likely to choose Responsible Investments if their advisor suggests suitable options or if their financial institution, credit union or online brokerage informed them about Responsible Investments," says Abbey.

Investors also said they would be more likely to choose Responsible Investments if they were more confident in their performance.

"These findings show that investors need more information from their advisors about Responsible Investments, and that right now they are largely unaware that they perform just as well if not better than traditional investments," says Abbey.

She adds that this awareness gap presents an opportunity for client-facing financial professionals to improve their clients' understanding of Responsible Investment.

The RIA research is based on an online survey of 1,084 Canadian investors conducted by Insights West from March 21 to March 30, 2017. Investors were defined as individuals who currently own investments such as mutual funds, exchange traded funds, stocks, bonds, or other securities. The full report, "2017 RIA Investor Opinion Survey," can be found at https://www.riacanada.ca/investor-opinion-survey/.

About OceanRock
OceanRock Investments Inc. is a Canadian Responsible Investment leader, managing $1.8 billion on behalf of Canadian investors. OceanRock offers a comprehensive range of managed portfolio solutions and individual funds to meet the needs of individual and institutional investors. OceanRock is dedicated to offering disciplined, risk-controlled and diversified investment solutions to Canadian individual and institutional investors and has a core commitment to Responsible Investing through its Meritas® SRI Funds. OceanRock Investments Inc. is a wholly owned subsidiary of Qtrade Financial Group, which is backed by Desjardins Group, the leading cooperative financial group in Canada and the sixth largest cooperative financial group in the world.

Commissions, trailing commissions, management fees and expenses all may be associated with mutual fund investments. Please read the prospectus before investing. Mutual funds are not guaranteed, their values change frequently and past performance may not be repeated.

1In 2015, OceanRock commissioned a study showing that Canadian RI equity funds have been better at mitigating losses in down markets, compared to non-RI funds. See: Hebb, Tessa. Carleton Centre for Community Innovation. "Canadian Responsible Investment Mutual Funds: Risk / Return Characteristics." 2See for example: Clark, G.L., Feiner, A., and M. Viehs (2014). "From the Stockholder to the Stakeholder: How Sustainability Can Drive Financial Outperformance," 2014.

About the Responsible Investment Association
The Responsible Investment Association (RIA) is Canada's leader on Responsible Investment (RI). RI refers to the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria into the selection and management of investments. We are a national, membership-based organization composed of financial institutions, mutual fund companies, investment firms, financial advisors, and various organizations and individuals who practice and support Responsible Investing. The RIA and its members strongly believe that RI is a valuable investment tool to enhance returns, reduce risk, and catalyze positive social change.

SOURCE OceanRock Investments Inc.

For further information: MEDIA CONTACTS: Sean Kelly, Senior Communications Specialist, Qtrade Financial Group, 778.328.7583, media@qtrade.ca; Dustyn Lanz, COO, Communications and Member Affairs, Responsible Investment Association, 416.300.2966, dustyn@riacanada.ca

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