Like it or not, institutional investors exert major influence over our economic system. And when it comes to how companies relate to society, they have given little support to progressive management teams and have found little reason to punish antisocial companies. On the 3rd October we looked at how investor attitudes are changing, and asked if companies are now behind the curve?

What are the signs of change? Firstly, empirical evidence that shows “high sustainability” companies outperform their peers is getting investor interest. Secondly, the ESG data that supports investment strategies is improving, lending itself to algorithm-based investment programmes. And thirdly, well-orchestrated activist campaigns are putting ESG issues on investors’ fiduciary duty agendas.

Studies, such as one from MIT / BCG, show that companies now significantly underestimate the importance that investors are putting on ESG data. This is a missed opportunity for some organisations, and a hidden risk for others. As one commentator put it, internal sustainability teams are still working in PowerPoint whilst investors are working in Excel.

We opened with a keynote speech from Omar Selim, the CEO of Arabesque Partners, which has been described as the “Tesla of finance”. Omar gave us a glimpse of how big data is transforming that ability of investors to access, analyse and use ESG data, and what that means from a systemic perspective.

Alex Threfall then moderated a panel of diverse perspectives – the head of responsible investing at a major investment manager, the CEO of a successful activist charity and an internal expert from a listed company. We worked our way through issues such as;

  • What is driving the change in investor attitudes, and where are we headed?
  • Should there be two languages – ESG and sustainability?
  • What trends should CFOs and risk managers be following?
  • What of Theresa May’s call for employee representatives on boards?
  • Have indices such as the DJSI had their day?
  • How should companies report sustainability in a big data era?
  • How can sustainability and Investor relations teams work better together?
  • How can companies and investors work better together?
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Event for: Directors / Heads of | Communications | Sustainability | CSR | Corporate Affairs | Marketing | Reporting


  • Axel Threlfall

    Editor-at-Large, Reuters
  • Omar Selim

    Founder and CEO, Arabesque Partners
  • Catherine Howarth

    Chief Executive, ShareAction
  • Steve Waygood

    Chief Responsible Investment Officer, Aviva Investments
  • Sue Garrard

    EVP Sustainable Business & Communications, Unilever

Round Tables

  • The Shareholder Revolution?
    How real is the change in investor attitudes to corporate sustainability? What is likely to influence change in the future – more evidence that sustainability is an outperformance criterion, shareholder activism, new reporting initiatives or big data? Should companies anticipate harder screening of their sustainability performance? What message should sustainability teams take to their CFO?
  • Big Data - The Ultimate Solution?
    They say big data is changing everything. Arabesque Partners uses an algorithm to invest in high sustainability companies from over 1 billion data points, and is outperforming the MSCI by 7%. To what extent could big data change the way that mainstream investors look at corporate sustainability and how? What are the other areas where big data could most impact sustainability?
  • Communicating With Investors
    Swedish manufacturer Atlas Copco recently withdrew from the DJSI in favour of a GRI materiality approach. Do you feel this reflects the changes that the investor community wants? What is the direction of travel for this relationship, from completing investor surveys to working closely through the Investor Relations team to quantifying the value of sustainability?
  • Effective Change Campaign
    According to a Harvard Business School study, when investors file a shareholder proposal on an ESG issue (whether it receives majority’s support or not), the company’s performance on that issue improves. What else makes an effective campaign for changing companies? From shareholder activist campaigns to adopting voluntary principles, what will stimulate the board to develop long-term governance?
  • Key Performance Indicators
    With an array of sustainable reporting frameworks now available - including UNGC, UNPRI, GRI, SASB and ISO 26000 - how useful are these to investors? Join Martina Macpherson, Head of Sustainability Indices at S&P Dow Jones Indices, to discuss which data may be valuable for investors and the key indicators that companies may consider providing.
  • The Carbon Revolution
    It is estimated that over 50% of energy efficiency projects that make commercial sense to either the company or a third party financier are no being realised. Does that figure feel right to you? If this is a market failure, how could the investor community play a role in correcting it? Do we need more policy in this area, or can you see the free market delivering rapid carbon reduction?
  • The Empowered Employee
    On being made Prime Minister, Theresa May signalled she wants to have employee representatives on boards – a nod to the Germanic model, where employees have greater influence over decision-making. Should employees, companies and investors welcome this move, or is it at odds with Anglo Saxon capitalism? Is she right to focus on the employee to deliver sustainability, and why?
  • The Influence Of Private Equity
    Are Private Equity (PE) house backed companies emerging as a driver of sustainability? With many PE house’s building in-house ESG teams and with increased focus on Responsible Investment is change in the air? If listed companies are seeing growing value in sustainability, what does this mean for PE? How can PE groups and their investee companies work better together?
  • Wellbeing And Corporate Governance


  • 17:30
    Arrivals and Networking
  • 18:00
    Welcome from Jim Woods, CEO, The Crowd
  • 18:05
    Keynote speech from Omar Selim, Arabesque Partners
  • 18:25

Venue Details

King Edward Hall, 2 King Edward Street, London, EC1A 1HQ

Who's Attending

head of corporate resposnibility Aberdeen Asset Management
Senior Analyst – Responsible Investing Aberdeen Asset Management
Analyst Accenture
MD Accenture
Principal Consultant Acre
Principal Consultant Acre
Head of Finance and Sustainability Adnams
Sustainability analyst Allianz Global Investors (UK) Ltd.
Corporate Responsibility ArcelorMittal
Environmental stakeholder specialist ArcelorMittal
Public Policy Manager Aviva
Head of Asset Management, Infrasctruture investments Aviva Investors
Head of Sustainability & Facilities Axis Europe
Executive Director B Lab UK
Co-Chair B Lab UK
Environmental Sustainability Lead BAE Systems
Project Management Graduate BAE Systems
Social value Manager Balfour Beatty
Credit Analyst Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Associate Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Intenational Head, ESG Bank of America Merrill Lynch
Citizenship Manager Barclays
Sustainability Barclays
Assistant Vice President, Citizenship and Reputation Barclays
Environmental Manager Barclays
Environment Manager Barclays
Private Banking UK Berenberg
Head of International Clients Berenberg
Group Sustainability Manager Berkeley Group
Head of Sustainability Bilfinger GVA
Commercial Development Manager Bioregional Development Group
Head of Sustainable Business Bioregional Development Group
Lead Sustainability Consultant Black Sun plc
Consultant Bladonmore
Senior CR advisor Bouygues
Director of SRI engagement BT Group Plc
head of press Bupa
Director of Investor Relations Burberry Group Plc
VP Corporate Responsibility Burberry Group Plc
Ethical Trade Coordinator Burberry Group Plc
Ethical Trade Coordinator Burberry Ltd
Director Business for the Unseen
Sustainability Reporting Manager Capgemini
Head of Sustainability Capital & Counties Properties PLC
Account manager Carbon Disclosure Project
Sustainability Consultant CBRE Group
Senior Programme Manager, Investment Leaders Group CISL
Institutional investor relations ClearlySo
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Manager Cobham Plc
Director Cool Earth
Partnership Manager Cool Earth
Commercial Manager – Partnerships Current, powered by GE
Marketing Manager Current, powered by GE
Business Development Manager Current, powered by GE
principal David Butter Consulting
Interim Talent Director Deloitte
Responsible Business Advisor Department for International Development
Investor Relations Department of Energy and Climate Change
Sustainable Sourcing Manager Diageo
Business Development Ecosummit
Public Affairs, Trade & Investment Senior Consultant Embassy of Brazil in London
Advisor to the Chair Environment Agency
Chair Environment Agency
Chief Eexcutive EP&T Global
Senior Director EP&T Global Ltd
Contributing Editor Ethical Performance
Executive Director Ethical Trading Initiative (ETI)
Trustee Feedback Plc
Corporate Governance Associate Fidelity International
HOD Staging Fisher Productions
Head of Sustainable Business Forum for the Future
Co-founder & Chair Future Fit Foundation
Environmental Risk Manager GE Capital
Snr EHS Expert Properties & Energy Efficiency Directive GE International
Associate Generation Investment Management
Product Manager GivingForce Limited
Head of Charity Engagement GivingForce Limited
CEO GivingForce Limited
Director, Investor Relations GlaxoSmithKline
Director, CR and Corporate Reporting GlaxoSmithKline
Director Investor Relations GlaxoSmithKline
Sustainability Manager GlaxoSmithKline
Partner Global Action Plan
Senior Partner Global Action Plan
Head of Air Quality Global Action Plan
Senior Executive – Vibrant Economy Grant Thornton LLP
Internal Sustainability Executive Grant Thornton UK LLP
Associate Herbert Smith Freehills LLP
ESG Analyst – Engagement Lead HSBC Global Asset Management
Vice President Cognitive Solutions IBM
Consultant IBM
Strategy & Sustainability Manager IGD
Independent Independent
Investor Relations Professional Independent
Business Development Manager Integrated Environmental Solutions
Account Manager Investor Initiatives
Global Head of Energy & Sustaiability ISS UK
CR Manager ISS UK
Strategy Manager, Global Sustainability JLL
Sustainability Manager JLL
Sustainability Manager Jones Lang Lasalle
Operations Sustainability Manager King’s College London
Sustainability Director Offer & Supply Chain Kingfisher plc
Sustainability Manager Kingfisher plc
Manager KPMG
Blockchain lead Kynetix
Environment Manager Land Securities
Senior Environment Manager Land Securities
Associate Linklaters LLP
Vice President – Food, Beverage & Sustainability Lloyd’s Register
Associate Director Lloyds Banking Group
Stakeholder Engagement Manager Lloyds Banking Group
Senior Reporting and Engagement manager Lloyds Banking Group
Sustainable Business Director Lloyds TSB
Associate Professor of Strategy and Entrepreneurship London Business School
Sustainability Manager Marylebone Cricket Club
Government Affairs Director Microsoft
Group Environment and Sustainability Manager National Express
Managing Director – Europe Natural Capital Partners
Business Development Manager Natural Capital Partners
Head of Client Engagement Neighbourly
Founder Neighbourly
Investor Relations Nestle
Senior CSR Manager New Look
Note Taker
Marketing Manager NQC
Head of Sustainability O2
Private Sector Policy – Finance Oxfam
Director, Sustainability Pearson plc
Global Operations Senior Sustainability Mananger PepsiCo
Business Development Director Polecat
Account Director Porter Novelli
Head of Measurement & Reporting, Corporate Sustainability PricewaterhouseCoopers
Controller, Ethical Trade & Sustainability Primark
Principal Ramboll ENVIRON
Manager Ramboll ENVIRON
Principal Consultant, Compliance, Strategy & Transaction Service Ramboll ENVIRON
Senior Consultant Ramboll ENVIRON
Founding Director Redshaw Advisors
Director Responsible 100
Sustainability Manager Rexam
Environment Reporting Manager Royal Bank of Scotland
CR Manager Royal Mail
Corporate Responsibility Manager Royal Mail
Investment Manager Rpmi Limited
Institutional Sales Russell Investments
Associate Director, UK Institutional Russell Investments
Head of Sustainability Indices S&P Dow Jones Indices
Director, EMEA Asset Owners and Consultants S&P Dow Jones Indices
Head of Internal Communications SABMiller
Global Sustainable Development Manager SABMiller
Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Coordinator Sainsburys
Head of Sustainable Research, ESG Schroders
ESG Analyst Schroders
Circular Economy Analyst Skanska UK Plc
Manager Sustainalytics
Director Sustainability Taylor Wimpey
Head of Sustainability Solutions Telefonica
Head of CR Telefonica UK
Corporate Responsibility Executive Tesco
CEO The Crowd
Chair The Crowd
The Crowd
Event Manager The Crowd
Nfa The Crowd
Strategic Advisor – the Curve The Crowd
Senior Researcher The Prince’s Accounting for Sustainability Project
Account Director Trucost
Account DIrector Trucost
Chief Operating Officer Trucost
Head of Environmental Finance Trucost
Executive Director UN Global Compact Network UK
Sustainable Business Analyst Unilever
Global Reporting Director Unilever
Assistant Reporting Manager Unilever
VP Finance Unilever
Strategy Manager, Sustainable Business and Communications Unilever
Graduate Trainee Unilever
PA to SVP Unilever
Global CMI Unilever
Analyst Verco
Managing Director Verco
Commercial Director Verco
Head of Corporate Transparency Vodafone
Manager, Research and Special Projects Volans
Sr. Director of Customer Intiatives Workiva
Senior Communications Manager WWF
Sustainable Finance and Corporate Risk Specialist WWF