In an initiative Coordinated by the Responsible Investment Association, a group of Canada’s leading institutional investors, representing more than $2.3 trillion in assets, have signed the new Canadian Investor Statement on Diversity & Inclusion. The statement acknowledges the existence of systemic racism, and of inequities and discrimination, and includes steps the investors will take to address these issues through their investments and in their own operations.

Dustyn Lanz, CEO of the RIA, said:

“Acknowledging the existence of systemic racism is a recognition that we have a lot of work to do to level the playing field in business and society. These investors are stepping up to do the work because it’s the right thing to do, and because there’s a strong business case for doing so.”

In a joint statement released by the investors, the signatories commit to taking steps to integrate diversity & inclusion (D&I) into their investment processes, beginning with tracking and monitoring the diversity and inclusion performance of Canadian public companies, reviewing and updating their proxy voting guidelines and stewardship priorities, and engaging with external managers regarding their strategies to promote diversity and inclusion. The investors also pledged to engage their portfolio companies to convey expectations of improved disclosure and performance on diversity and inclusion practices, including the advancement of underrepresented groups on boards, executive teams, and across the wider organization. Finally, signatories also committed to improving diversity and inclusion practices in their own organizations.

Kristi Mitchem, CEO, BMO Global Asset Management, said:

“The impacts of systemic racism and discrimination in our workplaces and society at large have long been felt by Black and Indigenous communities, and People of Colour. At BMO GAM, we work to recognize the value of D&I both internally and externally through measures including comprehensive diversity goals and active engagement with our Canadian holdings. We are encouraged by the collective efforts of the Canadian investor community to advance this critical issue.”

Kim Thomassin, Executive Vice-President and Head of Investments in Québec and Stewardship Investing, Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), said:

“As long-term investors, we have an important role to play in engaging our portfolio companies towards best practices in terms of diversity. 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.”

The full list of signatories to the pledge include: Addenda Capital, AGF Investments, Alberta Investment Management Corporation (AIMCo), Bâtirente, BMO Global Asset Management, British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI), Caisse de dépôt et placement du Québec (CDPQ), Canada Post Corporation Pension Plan, Central 1 Credit Union, CIBC Asset Management, Connor, Clark & Lunn Investment Management, Deetken Impact, Desjardins Group, ELFEC, Gestion , FÉRIQUE, Global Alpha Capital Management, IG Wealth Management, Jarislowsky Fraser Global Investment Management, Mackenzie Investments, MD Financial Management Inc., Montrusco Bolton Investments Inc., NEI Investments, OPSEU Pension Trust (OPTrust)*, PCJ Investment Counsel, Rally Assets Inc., RBC Global Asset Management Inc., Scheer, Rowlett & Associates Investment Management Ltd., SEI Investments, Simon Fraser University, The United Church of Canada, and University of Toronto Asset Management (UTAM).