Company Engagement Case Study

Smurfit Kappa

Issue: Gender Diversity

WHEB believes that companies with diverse Boards are better equipped to govern effectively. We look for companies to have a minimum gender representation of at least 25% of Board Directors.


Smurfit Kappa has been a laggard within the UK and Ireland when it comes to gender diversity at Board and Executive committee level. Our objective has been to convince the Board to increase female representation on the Board to at least 25%.

Scope and process:

We have voted against the reappointment of the Chairperson of the Nomination Committee for the past two years. On each occasion we have also written to the company to explain that our reason for voting against his reappointment is because of the poor gender diversity on the Board.

The company has not responded to either of our letters but we had the opportunity to raise the issue in person with the company’s CEO at a meeting with the CEO and IR Director.

Outcome: Successful

The company appointed a second female Director at their 2018 Annual General Meeting and announced a third female Director at the beginning of January 2019. Also at the end of October 2018, the company announced the retirement of the Chairman meaning that the Board has gone from 17% to 25% female. This change is due to be confirmed at the Annual General Meeting on 3rd May 2019.