Whilst there are a lot of discussions emerging around the changes we’re seeing in the investment community, both through the growth of Environmental Social Governance (ESG) teams and the use of artificial intelligence and big data, we are convinced that corporate sustainability experts have an important role to play in championing investments’ transparency.
In a conversation between some of the leading experts in sustainable finance in the UK – Emma Howard Boyd, Chair of the Environmental Agency, Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officers at Aviva, Catherine Howarth, CEO, ShareAction, we drew up 7 actions that internal teams should be considering, which we think are brilliant.
1. Ask if your company's pension fund or pension provider has a sustainability performance that aligns with your company's sustainability credentials. If not, find out who can put that right.
2. As a sustainability professional, consider putting yourself forward to be a trustee of your company's pension fund or to join a pensions committee for your firm. The pensions sector needs your expertise.
3. Find out if there is an employee-led team in your workplace or firm focusing on what happens to your pension savings? If not, consider starting one. The results can be impressive.
4. If you work for a public company, ask how well equipped your company's investor relations team is to present the company's sustainability credentials to financial analysts, brokers and investment managers.
5. If your company is listed, ask your Investor Relations team if you can meet your House Broker (for example, the investment bank whose job is to sell your corporate story to the market), and explain how your team adds value to the company in the long term. Then work with them to refine the story, and then make sure your CEO and FD can also tell the full sustainability story. With passion.
6. Attend your Annual General Meeting (AGM) and listen carefully to the questions asked by shareholders to see where you can help. These are key meetings for the board and senior executive.
7. Find out who your top twenty shareholders are. Establish who covers Environmental, Social and Corporate Governance (ESG) issues within those institutions, and suggest your investor relations team offer them 1:1 sustainability meetings. You will likely get only a few meetings, but each one of them will contain useful information that you can use to tell your team’s story internally.
How many of these are you doing at the moment?
Then you have your check-list ready.
If you need further advice for any of the above, the panel members would be pleased to help or advise, especially Catherine Howarth of ShareAction (email@example.com).
With thanks to Steve Waygood, Catherine Howarth and Emma Howard Boyd.