Canadian pension plans sign new investor statement on diversity and inclusion

Canadian institutional investors representing more than $2.3 trillion in assets under management have signed a new statement on diversity and inclusion.

The list of signatories on the joint statement, which was coordinated by the Responsible Investment Association, includes the Alberta Investment Management Corp., Bâtirente, the British Columbia Investment Management Corp., the Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec, the Canada Post Corp. pension plan, the OPSEU Pension Trust and the University of Toronto Asset Management Corp.

“Accelerating progress on diversity and inclusion within our organizations and investment portfolios requires a purposeful and collective effort on behalf of many investors,” said Kevin Uebelein, the chief executive officer of the Alberta Investment Management Corp., in a press release. “Together, we can build a more inclusive business and investment landscape in Canada.”

The signatories will take steps to integrate diversity and inclusion into their investment processes, including monitoring the diversity and inclusion practices of Canadian public companies and conveying their expectations of improved disclosures on the topic. Further, the signatories said they expect public companies to aim to adopt policies, targets and timelines to improve board and senior management diversity.

“As long-term investors, we have an important role to play in engaging our portfolio companies towards best practices in terms of diversity,” said Kim Thomassin, executive vice-president and head of investments in Quebec and stewardship investing at the Caisse. “It has been shown that diversity is a lever for improving performance, which is why CDPQ has positioned diversity and inclusion as a pillar of its sustainable investment strategy. Moreover, we understand how inclusion is closely related to equal opportunity and social justice. Therefore, we encourage our peers to make this subject a priority.”

In addition to outlining their expectations for Canadian companies, the signatories defined the steps they’ll take as investors to strengthen diversity and inclusion within their own organizations, including providing training to foster inclusive cultures, collecting data to identify and address barriers to the advancement or underrepresented groups and seeking out underrepresented voices to inform their work in on diversity and inclusion.

They also committed to reporting on their efforts and reviewing and updating practices. “Dismantling systemic racism, discrimination and barriers to senior roles for Black, Indigenous and People of Colour demands action,” said Peter Lindley, president and CEO of the OPTrust. “Representation matters and institutional investors should reflect the diversity of the markets in which we invest. We can influence and create transformation by defining quantifiable measures today and over the long term. OPTrust is committed to putting in the work and holding ourselves accountable to realize greater equity.”