Comptroller hopeful Scott Stringer wants to use the city’s financial clout to boost the number of women serving in the country’s corporate boardrooms.
In honor of Women’s Equality Day–and in what some may see as a subtle dig against rival Eliot Spitzer and the infamous prostitution scandal that ended Mr. Spitzer’s governorship–Mr. Stringer will roll out plans today to encourage greater female representation at the highest levels of corporate power, with proposals that include the appointment of a “chief diversity officer” in the comptroller’s office.
According to the campaign, only 17 percent of the 5,000 corporate board seats at S&P 500 companies are held by women, even though women make up an estimated 47 percent of the country’s workforce. In addition to being more diverse, the Stringer campaign says, studies show that public companies with female directors perform better and are slightly more risk-averse than those run by men.
“The struggle for equality is not over, even 93 years after American women were first granted the right to vote,” the Manhattan borough president said in a statement. “Today, we need to make sure that women also have a voice in our corporate board rooms, because that’s not just good for society, it’s good for business and good for growing our pension portfolio.”
To help bridge the gap if he wins, Mr. Stringer’s plan includes working with other pension funds and investors to push companies to up the number of women on their boards through the “Thirty Percent Coalition,” a national group, which aims to achieve 30 percent female representation on public boards by the end of 2015.
He also proposed sponsoring a shareholder initiatives calling for greater representation, as well as the appointment of a “Chief Diversity Officer” who would be charged with working with corporate, academic and government stakeholders “to develop the most effective strategies for promoting diversity throughout different industries and sectors.”
Mr. Stringer has been endorsed by nearly every union and sitting Democratic official, but is trailing in the polls behind Mr. Spitzer, who has made using the city’s pension clout to push for corporate reforms a centerpiece of his agenda.
Updated (12:35 p.m.): This post has been updated to correct an error in the Stringer campaign’s statement. It has been 93 years since the 1920 ratification of the 19th Amendment giving women the right to vote, not 63.