Canadian investors among $7.9 trillion coalition pushing companies for disclosure on global workforces

By July 4, 2017Press Release

Toronto, ON, July 4, 2017 – A coalition of 79 global institutional investors with nearly $8 trillion in AUM is putting its muscle behind a demand that companies disclose more information on how they manage their global workforces. The investors are founding signatories of the Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI), a project devised and coordinated by ShareAction and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development (DfID).

In Canada, the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE) is collaborating with UK-based ShareAction on the initiative, which includes 19 Canadian investor signatories with more than $50 billion in AUM including: Addenda Capital Inc., Atkinson Foundation, Fonds de solidarité FTQ, Genus Capital Management Inc., OPTrust, OceanRock Investments Inc., Seamark Asset Management and the United Church of Canada Pension Fund. They are backing a survey sent today to 75 mega-cap companies listed on 8 international stock exchanges, including 10 Canadian companies listed on the TSX-60.

“We are excited to be collaborating with ShareAction on the Workforce Disclosure Initiative,” says Shannon Rohan, Director of Responsible Investment at the Shareholder Association for Research and Education. “The number of investors that have come on board for the pilot year is testament to a growing consensus that good employment practices contribute meaningfully to better corporate performance and long-term value creation.”

The investors involved want deeper insight into companies’ workforce policies and practices, and to see how firms compare with peers in the same sector in managing workforce risks and opportunities. Companies being surveyed in the pilot year are being asked about their governance of workforce issues, global workforce composition and stability, training and development of people, and worker engagement. The request is for information covering employees in companies’ global operations and workers in their supply chains.

The data generated will allow investors to engage with companies in support of smart management of ‘human capital’, decent work practices and their exposure to the risks of poor workforce practices. The lack of comparable and quality data disclosed by companies is cited as a major barrier to such investor engagement at present.

“We believe integrating workforce issues into our investment process will improve long-term value and returns for our pension fund members,” says Katharine Preston, Director, Responsible Investing, OPTrust. “In order to fulfill our role as an active owner in relation to these issues, we need to be able to measure how companies manage their workforces. With its strong, collaborative call for better reporting from companies, the WDI is an important step in the right direction.”

“The Atkinson Foundation is excited to be a founding signatory of the Workforce Disclosure Initiative,” says Colette Murphy, Executive Director of the Atkinson Foundation.  “We’re proud of SHARE for stepping up to mobilize Canadian investors to advocate for robust decent work policies and practices in investee companies. The WDI will equip investors with important data on what companies are doing to realize much higher returns for everyone.”

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Notes to editors:

  • Interviews to discuss the WDI and its Canadian focus available with Shannon Rohan, Director of Responsible, SHARE. Contact Norah Murphy at [email protected] or +1 604 695 2026
  • For a full list of investor signatories please contact Beau O’Sullivan on [email protected] or +44203 475 7859 / +447950 299 491
  • To find out more about the WDI, see the webpage here

 

About SHARE (Shareholder Association for Research & Education)

SHARE is a Canadian leader in responsible investment services, research and education for institutional investors. Since its creation as a non-profit organization in 2000, SHARE has provided proxy voting analysis, shareholder engagement, education, policy advocacy, and practical research on issues related to responsible investment. SHARE’s clients include pension funds, mutual funds, foundations, faith-based organizations and asset managers across Canada.

www.share.ca / @share_ca

About ShareAction

ShareAction is an organisation with a mission to transform capital markets into a greater force for public good. Our vision is of a responsible investment system that truly serves savers, communities, and protects our environment for the long term.

 

LIST OF CANADIAN SIGNATORIES 

Addenda Capital Inc.
Atkinson Foundation
British Columbia Teachers’ Federation
Canadian Labour Congress Staff Pension Plan
Congregation of the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus and Mary
Evangelical Lutheran Foundation of Eastern Canada
Fonds de solidarité FTQ
Genus Capital Management Inc.
Loretto Sisters
OceanRock Investments Inc.
OPTrust
Seamark Asset Management
Sisters of Charity, Halifax
Sisters of Instruction of the Child Jesus
United Church of Canada
United Church of Canada Pension Fund
University of St. Michael’s College
Ursuline Sisters of Chatham
Vancity Investment Management