US pension giants’ diverse director database launches to curb corporate groupthink

400-candidate resource goes live today

A new pension fund-backed database of diverse director candidates – which aims to source untapped talent for corporate boards – has gone live.
The project was founded by California pension fund giants CalPERS and CalSTRS and governance researcher GMI Ratings and aims to curb the corporate ‘groupthink’ that contributed to the financial crisis.
The Diverse Director DataSource, or 3D, is now open as a tool for companies, recruitment firms and shareholders. It is to be officially announced at the New York Stock Exchange today.
The site – which started accepting candidates in September 2011 – already includes over 400 candidate profiles, with a further 300 in the pipeline. They represent a range of industries, geographies, expertise, ethnicities, genders and ages. Candidates can submit their profiles free of charge.
The pool of candidates is almost two thirds female and a majority have post-graduate qualifications and public or private board experience.“3D is an innovative resource that opens the door to finding candidates whose fresh ideas and new perspectives can help companies generate lasting, sustainable value and provide a check against the kind of ‘group think’ that played a significant role in the financial crisis,” says Anne Simpson, Director of Corporate Governance at the California Public Employees’ Retirement System, the largest US pension fund.
“We see 3D as a market solution to a supply and demand situation,” added Anne Sheehan, governance chief at the California State Teachers’ Retirement System.
The funds started the 3D project more than two years ago, with support from California State Controller John Chiang who sits on both their boards. GMI took ownership of the site last year.
The launch coincides with a survey from the NYSE’s Corporate Board Member magazine and recruitment firm Spencer Stuart, which found that 75% of US boards are taking a “broad range of actions” to promote boardroom diversity.