Highlights of recent engagement activity include meaningful progress on board gender diversity. In 2016, we began withholding support for companies that were not sufficiently gender diverse: where they had less than 15% women on the board, we voted against the annual report and accounts at the AGM and abstained where this was greater than 15% but less than 30%. In 2019, we used the same process but focused on the resolution to re-elect the Chair of the Nomination Committee.
Twenty one companies in our funds have increased the proportion of women on their boards to over 30%, such that we no longer need to withhold support. After voting, these companies now have an average of 38% female boards, compared to just 22% before we began voting. A further 15 have increased the number of women on their boards, and we remain positive that continued efforts through voting and engagement should result in further progress