US - The California State Teachers' Retirement System (CalSTRS) and the California Public Employees' Retirement System (CalPERS) have begun working with an advisory panel of corporate governance experts to help find untapped talent to serve on their corporate boards.
The Diverse Director DataSource, known as "3D," will offer shareowners, companies and other organisations a facility from which to recruit individuals whose experience, skills and knowledge qualify them to be a candidate for a director's seat.
"The Diverse Director DataSource project is aimed at bringing a new range of skills and experiences to complement existing resources on corporate boards," said Jack Ehnes, CalSTRS chief executive officer.
"We firmly believe that this tool will bring a wide range of talent, experience and ideas that will help create a powerful dynamic, which will translate into lasting economic value for these corporations and shareholders."
CalPERS and CalSTRS, along with the advisory panel of institutional investors, diversity groups, companies, academics, search firms and labour organisations, have been working on the Diverse Director DataSource for more than a year.
"The Diverse Director DataSource is an important tool for finding untapped, experienced individuals who can help corporate boards make the tough decisions necessary to promote long-term growth to help achieve sustainable risk-adjusted returns," said Anne Stausboll, CalPERS chief executive officer.
"Companies perform best when directors with fresh ideas and focused skill sets are willing to challenge the status quo."
CalPERS and CalSTRS have commissioned The Corporate Library, an independent corporate governance researcher with an existing database of 130,000 public company directors, to develop the Diverse Director DataSource.
The Corporate Library, an existing vendor in both CalPERS and CalSTRS' corporate governance programmes, will own, operate and maintain the DataSource and work with CalPERS, CalSTRS and the 18-member advisory panel to create it.
The Diverse Director DataSource will be open to all highly qualified leaders, but only subscribers will be able to access its information. The subscribers will vet potential candidates for nomination through a rigorous process.
Both the CalSTRS and CalPERS corporate governance websites will feature links to the DataSource, which is expected to be operating by mid-2011.
CalSTRS director of corporate governance Anne Sheehan added: "There is demonstrated economic value from having a board of directors that is diverse not only in gender but in age and experience, and we believe that makes it a shareholder value issue. The candidate qualifications will still have to meet the company's needs, but the final decision should be made by shareholders when they vote."
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