Canada’s largest pension fund manager is pushing to have more women on corporate boards because diversity makes for better business decisions, the Canada Pension Plan Investment Board’s chief executive Mark Machin said Friday.

“This is a high priority for us,” Machin said in an interview after the CPPIB released its second-quarter financial report. “We think that diversity leads to better decision-making and I think there’s a growing body of academic and practical evidence that leads to that (conclusion).”

Read: CPP fund delivers ‘modest return’ of 2.5% in second quarter

As a result, CPPIB — which manages more than $325 billion for the Canada Pension Plan — voted 34 times this year against specific directors who chaired board’s nomination committees that failed to include women as candidates.

Although none of the 34 targeted directors were defeated, Machin said that CPPIB believes it has a responsibility to take a leadership role and “would encourage other people to do the same.”

The CPPIB, itself, has an equal number of male and female directors on its 12-member board, which is chaired by Heather Munroe-Blum, a former president of McGill University.

Machin said he thinks there’s broad support in Canada for gender-parity but acknowledged that it can take a long time to change a board’s makeup for various reasons, including the desire for stability and the right set of skills among directors. 

“But when you actually push on it, I find that some of those can melt away,” Machin said.

Read: Canada’s largest institutional investors call for 30% women on boards by 2022

Copyright © 2017 Transcontinental Media G.P. Originally published on benefitscanada.com

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