Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM) is to begin voting against the chairs of boards of FTSE 350 companies if they do not have at least 25% female representation at board level.
In its annual Corporate Governance report, the firm said overall it had increased its votes against management last year, opposing the reappointment of 2,807 company directors and voted against at least one resolution at 59% of companies in a bid to promote positive change in issues such as climate change, diversity, long-term strategy and shareholder rights.
Within this it voted against 37 board chairs or chairs of nomination committees in the UK due to poor diversity, the highest number since 2015.
LGIM also voted against all-male boards for the first time in S&P 500 companies, on both board composition and quality of diversity policies.
In addition, the group said it will continue to vote against the chairs of boards at FTSE 350 companies that show a lack of diversity, and from this year it will vote against chairs of boards of FTSE 350 companies if they have not already reached the 2017 target of 25% women at board level.
Sacha Sadan, director of corporate governance at LGIM, said: "Our clients are increasingly asking us about a broader range of topics, which has helped us to enhance our approach and to put emerging issues on the agenda.
"There are, however, themes that continue to resonate and throughout the year we've seen a focus on gender diversity, climate change and governance and culture, all of which we are continuing to engage on with companies."
This comes as the Investment Association revealed one in 10 FTSE 350 companies falls short of their gender diversity targets.
LGIM also opposed 215 remuneration resolutions in the UK, a 40% increase on 2016.
Sadan explained: "We want companies to reward talent and success appropriately, but we worry when pay rises reflect short term performance.
"In 2017, we strengthened our US policy to press more companies to focus on pay for long term performance and limit the number of restricted shares and options granted in remuneration packages.
"We made it clear that we will not support increases in base pay for executive directors that are out of line with the workforce, unless there is a genuine rationale that we consider acceptable, such as promotion."
In the US, LGIM also saw a 52% increase in the number of remuneration resolutions it opposed to 277.
The group also held 108 meetings with companies in 2017 on climate change and voted in favour od 95% related resolutions in the US last year.
However, on average, the report said the world's top ten asset managers supported just 21% of climate-related proposals in the US.
"Due to the media spotlight on failures in corporate stewardship, it can seem as though many companies are not doing a good job addressing ESG-related matters," said Sadan.
"In fact, the vast majority of companies are making significant progress - we simply believe there is more to be done. The same is true of asset managers. We, too, need to intensify our efforts to help deliver long-term value for clients by actively engaging with companies and regulators."
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