In early 2019, Praxis Mutual Funds® joined Miller/Howard Investments and the Rhode Island State Treasurer to engage Whirlpool Corporation on board diversity.
In April, the shareholder collaborative sent a letter commending Whirlpool for its robust diversity and inclusion program, while raising concerns about gender diversity at the board and C-suite levels. The letter led to a conversation in May.
The dialogue covered topics such as female/ethnic representation on the board, diversity and unconscious bias staff training programs, and internal programs to encourage diversity. The conversation was mutually beneficial, with the investors learning details about Whirlpool’s multi-pronged approach to diversity. Whirlpool iterated that its goal is best-in-class for diversity and inclusion among its corporate peers. The shareholder group will continue to monitor progress, and another dialogue is scheduled for late 2019.
Praxis and the other investors are members of the Thirty Percent Coalition, a pioneer in advocating for diversity in the corporate boardroom. The Coalition provides a national forum where its members develop strategies to influence companies to increase gender and ethnic diversity in senior leadership and boardrooms.
According to the Coalition, research has shown a compelling correlation between board diversity with improved shareholder value and company performance. A growing group of companies and investors support the proposition that diversity on boards leads to better company performance.