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A Tim Hortons Inc. restaurant location stands in downtown Kitimat, British Columbia,on Friday, June 5, 2015.Ben Nelms/Bloomberg

A proposal to create a formal diversity policy at the parent company of Tim Hortons and Burger King aimed at increasing the number of women on its all-male board of directors has been rejected.

Oceanrock Investments Inc. and the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE), which both hold shares in RBI, asked the company to write a formal diversity policy and inform shareholders how and when it intends to increase the number of women on its board of directors and in senior management positions.

The proposal asked RBI to do so by this December.

Fred Pinto, Oceanrock Investments' CEO, said there are many benefits to increasing gender diversity on corporate boards, including the potential for better shareholder returns. He said it's also just the right thing to do.

Other shareholders rejected the proposal at the company's annual general meeting this morning.

The board had declined to make a recommendation on how shareholders should vote, but did amend its new director nomination process to consider diverse candidates in response to the proposal.

Gender diversity on corporate boards in Canada has become a source of tension between shareholders and companies.

BCE Inc.'s shareholders voted down a similar proposal at their annual general meeting earlier this year, and a Dollarama shareholder brought up concerns over the lack of women in leadership positions at that company's meeting earlier this week.

Before today's meeting, Restaurant Brands International announced it's expanding its presence in the United States through a new partnership.

RBI says Restaurant Development Partners will grow the Tim Hortons brand across the state of Minnesota through a 14-year arrangement. Details of the expansion weren't disclosed.

RDP's new president will be Mark Holly, who has a decade of corporate experience with the Tim Hortons brand.

The Minnesota partnership is the latest move to spread the Tim Hortons brand in the United States. RBI signed the Luke Family of Brands in February to expand its presence in the state of Indiana.

Tim Hortons currently has the bulk of its 4,400 restaurants in Canada, where it began in 1964 with a single location.

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