In his DealBook column, Andrew Ross Sorkin looked at an issue that may be hindering progress in diversifying boards – many companies bar their employees from joining outside boards. The plight of Niki Christoff, who was fired from her job as a senior vice president at Salesforce for accepting a board role despite a company policy, highlights the challenge of finding diverse directors in a “club long dominated by men.” Many large companies restrict board roles, citing a potential conflict of interest, the time commitment and “the branding issue,” Sorkin noted, but argues that perhaps that outside directorship can bring a fresh perspective back to the employer.
Jana Partners continued its run of campaigns at healthcare companies, disclosing a stake in Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings that makes it the company’s fourth largest shareholder, Bloomberg reported. While it is still unclear what the New York-based hedge fund will push for, an analyst with Jefferies Financial Group suggested the move may lead the company to undergo a strategic review, citing the stock’s discount and high-growth clinical research assets.
BlackRock upped the ante on its voting policy around climate change, laying out its investment policies in a new document published this week. BlackRock said it expects company directors “to have sufficient fluency in climate risk and the energy transition to enable the whole board—rather than a single director who is a ‘climate expert’.” The institutional investor went on to say that it would vote against directors if the company has not clearly articulated its climate change strategy. The move is part of an ongoing effort by BlackRock to put pressure on companies it feels are not taking requisite steps toward lowering emissions. CEO Larry Fink presaged this push in his annual letter and now a detailed presentation has followed.
Have a great weekend,