By Marcie Frost

Women’s Equality Day is tomorrow. This national celebration commemorates the adoption 101 years ago when the 19th amendment was passed and women in this country finally gained the right to vote.

To mark this historic milestone and the long struggle to passage, CalPERS is holding its inaugural Pathways for Women conference. This free, virtual event will bring together women leaders at the top of their professions, from government to business to finance, to talk about their journeys – and to offer guidance and advice to the next generation of talented women eager to make their mark.

At CalPERS, we are driven by the principles embodied in Women’s Equality Day and the powerful idea that we all thrive when the doors of opportunity are opened wide. And so, we have launched a formal Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion framework to give all our 2,800 employees and 2 million members a pathway to respect and success.

A Five-Point Framework

CalPERS’ commitment to inclusivity is rooted in five priority areas:

  • Culture: Integrating diversity, equity, and inclusion best practices into CalPERS’ culture to increase awareness, build mutually rewarding relationships and foster teamwork.
  • Talent Management: Support and retain a high-performing, equitable and diverse workforce by ensuring human resource processes strengthen diversity in recruitment, retention, and succession.
  • Health Equity: Fostering equitable health outcomes for members and their families by ensuring all health members can attain the highest possible level of wellbeing.
  • Supplier Diversity: Building relationships with a diverse group of businesses, recognizing the unique value of partners with a shared commitment to equity and inclusion.
  • Investments: Achieving stronger investment returns, with the belief that diverse boards and companies that value diversity perform better.

CalPERS reinforces the priority of this effort by integrating it into its organization through an organization-wide Diversity & Inclusion Council. There is a strong emphasis on education and communication across a variety of Diversity and Inclusion topics, including LGBTQ+, mental health, unconscious bias, racism, and civil unrest.

This commitment helps us deliver on our mission. CalPERS uses its strength as a global investor to push companies to follow these same principles. During the last four years, CalPERS has engaged more than 733 companies in the Russell 3000 Index requesting they improve diversity on their boards, and 67% have responded adding elements of board diversity. When engagement is not sufficient, CalPERS will use its proxy voting strength. Sustaining these efforts over time will ensure diversity and equity always remain an economic priority.

When we bring people together who have different perspectives and life experiences, their opinions and recommendations help ensure CalPERS can be a strong and resilient organization. Communities of color, LGBTQ+ and people with unique lived experiences, united by a shared cause, are an incredible competitive advantage. It is one we value and will continue to leverage as CalPERS works to provide secure retirement and health benefits to our members.

Marcie Frost is Chief Executive Officer for CalPERS