The FCA has launched a consultation on proposals to improve transparency for investors on the diversity of listed company boards and their executive management teams.
The body is consulting on changes to its Listing Rules to require listed companies to publish annual comply statement on whether they have achieved certain proposed targets for gender and ethnic minority representation on their boards.
The FCA is also proposing changes to its disclosure and transparency rules to require companies to ensure any existing disclosure on diversity policies addresses key board committees and also considers broader aspects of diversity. This could include, for example, considerations of ethnicity, sexual orientation, disability, lower socio-economic background and other diversity characteristics.
Clare Cole, Director of Market Oversight at the FCA commented on the proposals: “There is a current lack of standardised and mandatory transparency about diversity on listed company boards, particularly outside the FTSE 350 who do not provide data to the voluntary initiatives in this area. But interest from investors is growing and companies are increasingly focusing on this topic due to ESG investing, as well as wider social and public policy concerns.
“Our proposals are intended to increase transparency by establishing better, comparable information on the diversity of companies’ boards and executive committees. This will provide better data for companies and investors to assess progress in these areas and make investment decisions, reduce investor search costs, and inform shareholder engagement, enhancing market integrity.
“Over time, we expect enhanced transparency may strengthen incentives for companies towards greater diversity on their boards and encourage a more strategic approach to diversity in their pipeline of talent. This may have broader benefits in terms of the quality of corporate governance and company performance in due course.”