The Church Investors Group (CIG), whose 61 members have around $17 billion invested between them, has told businesses they must appoint more female board members.
The CIG, which includes the Church of England and the Methodist Church, has said it will vote against the chair of the board nomination committee at UK companies with less than 33 per cent of board members, and against all directors on the nomination committee if a company has less than 25 per cent of female board directors, according to the Financial Times.
The move continues a trend toward improving gender diversity in large companies by investors putting pressure on boards. There are now 27 investors backing the 30% Club initiative aimed at promoting more women to senior management.
Stephen Beer, chief investment officer at the Central Finance Board of the Methodist Church, told the FT: 'The issue of board diversity has been talked about for a number of years. Boards have had a long time to prepare for this and get it right.
'We think it is time more is done.'
The CIG operates within a rigorous framework of values, saying on its website: 'Our aims are to encourage the formulation of investment policies based on Christian ethical principles, to encourage responsible business practice through engagement with company managements and to share information and views on ethical matters related to investment.'