Dive Brief: In a sign of an increased focus on diversity and inclusion among publicly traded construction company boards of directors, 22% of Balfour Beatty shareholders opposed the reappointment of outgoing chairman Philip Aiken as a member of the board of directors amid diversity concerns. There are currently two women and six men on the company’s board of directors. The London-based contractor announced last week that Charles Allen, former CEO of ITV and EMI Music, will succeed Aiken as chairman of the board. A 78% vote in favor of Aiken means he will remain on the board of directors, but the relatively low approval margin – all other decisions passed 93% or more – reflects growing dissatisfaction among investors about the lack of diversity among the companies’ top ranks. Following the results, the company released a statement via the London Stock Exchange acknowledging the work it needs to do to achieve its diversity goals. “The Board of Directors notes the outcome of this decision which we understand arose out of concerns about the diversity of the Board of Directors,” the statement read. “We have communicated extensively with shareholders during the year and will continue to do so. We will post an update of this post, as per the UK’s Corporate Governance Code, within six months.” Dive Insight: Lukewarm endorsement for Aiken came after the influential proxy group for institutional shareholder services advised shareholders to vote against his reappointment, according to UK Construction News. The ISS based this recommendation on the fact that women make up only 25% of Balfour Beatty’s board of directors, below the recommendation of 33% of the Hampton-Alexander Review in the United Kingdom, an independent initiative launched in 2016 to increase women in leadership roles on the Financial Times Stock. Exchange 350 companies. In its Annual Report for 2021, Balfour Beatty acknowledged that it had not reached those benchmarks. “The board acknowledges that it is not currently meeting the target set by the Hampton-Alexander Review and will aim to enhance the diversity of its board of directors through ongoing succession planning,” stated the report, released in April. While Allen’s appointment on May 13 did not lead to an increase in the number of women on the board, the British Evening Standard reported that he regularly appears on the lists of the most influential LGBT people in the country and notes that “his appointment will be a welcome element in the diversity of the LGBT community. In the construction industry.” . However, Balfour Beatty didn’t achieve the 33% standard for women across its wider leadership ranks, either, according to Building News. The company’s top leadership includes 33 women and 91 men, or 26.6% female representation. Tension in the usually sober investment circles of the UK can be a precursor to future stress for US contractors. While environmental, social, and governance investment, and its corresponding focus on diversity, was originally a success among European mutual funds, it has grown rapidly in the United States as well. Major US contractors, including AECOM, Jacobs, and Webcor, have launched ESG initiatives. In the wake of the killing of George Floyd by Minneapolis police last year, hundreds of construction companies signed up to Associated General Contractors of America’s Culture of CARE’s CARE, which promotes diversity and inclusion in the workplace.