Two years after the Rana Plaza factory building in Bangladesh collapsed, taking the lives of more than 1,100 workers and injured thousands more, a Canadian responsible investment organization has found that some Canadian apparel companies are still not participating in industry safety initiatives in Bangladesh.
Vancouver, BC: On the occasion of the World Day for Decent Work, a group of leading Canadian responsible investment managers and funds has endorsed Canada’s Responsible Property Services Code, communicating their commitment to decent working conditions in Canada’s commercial real estate sector. The Code establishes standards for how commercial real estate companies incorporate decent work principles into the procurement of property services such as cleaning, security and maintenance.
Canadian institutional investors are allocating a growing percentage of their assets to real estate. Canadian pension funds have placed, on average, 8% of their total assets to real estate, a value of approximately $104 billion. Real estate investors, both in Canada and globally, have shown a growing interest in improving the environmental performance of their real estate portfolios. But social performance has not received equal attention, despite evidence of the opportunities associated with superior social performance in commercial real estate.
“When workers are paid fair wages, receive full-time work, and have access to health benefits, training opportunities, and legitimate grievance mechanisms, worker productivity improves and companies experience lower turnover and absenteeism and lower risks of workplace accidents and injury” says Shannon Rohan, SHARE’s Director of Responsible Investment, “This means that instead of spending time managing a revolving door of workers, property service firms can focus on delivering superior tenant services and property managers can focus on building better relationships with clients. Well attended tenants are more likely to renew leases and pay premium rents,” she adds.
Recognizing the long-term performance benefits of decent working conditions in commercial real estate properties, the investors that have endorsed the Code are committed to communicating with fund managers and portfolio companies about the Code and the importance of decent working conditions in property service supply chains for the overall performance of commercial real estate properties and property portfolios.
“By supporting responsible contracting practices, fair wages and reasonable workloads for property service workers, we are protecting the value of our real estate assets and thereby safeguarding the stable income streams that we expect from these portfolios” says Erik Mathiesen, President of the Atkinson Charitable Foundation.
In cooperation with Code endorsers, SHARE will work to incorporate more social performance measures into the broader responsible property investing agenda and will continue to encourage Canadian commercial real estate companies to improve their contracting and procurement policies and practices.
The Responsible Property Services Code is the product of a two-year process supported by the Atkinson Charitable Foundation that brought together Canadian investors, property managers, civil society organizations and workers to develop a labour code of conduct for the commercial real estate sector. For more information go to the Investing in Decent Work website at: www.decentwork.ca/precarious-employment.
SHARE is a Canadian leader in responsible investment services, education and research for institutional investors. We offer proxy voting, shareholder engagement and consulting services, courses and conferences, policy advocacy and timely research that help investors integrate environmental, social and governance issues into the investment management process. www.share.ca
Institutional investors that have endorsed the Code:
- The Atkinson Charitable Foundation
- The Canadian Labour Congress Staff Pension Plan
- Glasswaters Foundation
- Meritas SRI Funds (OceanRock Investments Inc.)
- Stephen Whipp Financial
- The United Church of Canada