Calvert Investment

Say It Ain't So, Urban Outfitters

Imagine my surprise this week when I learned that one of my favorite haunts, Anthropolgie (the source of many birthday gifts for my daughter, family and friends) has no women on its board.  Anthropolgie, owned by the epitome of cool, Urban Outfitters (URBN), is resisting a shareholder resolution encouraging the company to affirm diversity as a corporate value. Calvert Investment Management Inc. and Denise Nappier, Ct. State Treasurer and trustee for the Connecticut Retirement Plans and Trust Funds filed the resolution. 2020 Women on Boards participated in the press conference this week on the issue.

Urban Outfitters has no women (or diversity of any kind) on its board. The company has urged shareholders to vote against the resolution, saying that diversity would restrict the nominating committee and add administrative burdens and cost.

So what's with Urban Outfitters? According to Calvert Investment Management, "Nearly all major U.S. retailers have made major strides to embrace diversity in the board room, making it rare for such a company to take the step of publicly opposing a shareholder resolution affirming diversity as a corporate value."

Has URBN lost sight of the fact that most of its customers are women? Wouldn't the board welcome a fresh, female perspective?

To the board’s point that a search for a woman candidate would have restricted the nominating committee and added administrative burdens and cost, they only have to look at our resource page to learn about firms and organizations that can help them identify qualified women to serve. Some will even do it for free.

The board votes on this issue May 17th. We'll be watching.

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