Movers & Shakers in Shareholder Activism — Watch the 2015 Proxy Season and ICCR

by Hank Boerner – Chairman, G&A Institute

For more than 35 years, the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) has been in the forefront of pressing for changes and reforms in corporate policies, practices and behaviors. This is a coalition of 300 institutional investment organizations — mainly faith-based and “values-driven” institutions — directly managing US$100 billion in assets.

Members include major religious denominations, sustainable & responsible investing organizations, foundations, unions, colleges & universities, and social issue advocacies.

ICCR through its long0-term activism and corporate engagement — especially in proxy season and importantly, year-round — influences many billions of dollars more in AUM in the US and global capital markets.

Issues on focus for ICCR members in 2014 included:

Corporate Governance — a traditional/perennial set of concerns; this includes separation and chair and CEO positions, and independence of board members;

The Environment – especially global warming / climate change and environmental justice;

Food – access to nutritious food, ag & land use, use of antibiotics in meat animals, food & sustainability…and more; note that for ICCR, food issues include the impact of climate change on growing areas (such as flooding and droughts);

Global Health – access to medicines by people in less-developed economies is a long-standing concern of members, who over the decades have engaged with pharma companies change marketing practices;

Human Rights — increasingly in recent years the focus on corporate supply chain behaviors, policies, and actions has increased;

Water – this ties in to human rights and access to water is a key factor; also, the trend to privatization of water supply is an important focus;

Financial Services – responsible lending was in focus long before the major banks took on too much risk and led the nation into crisis with subprime lending shenanigans; as investors, ICCR members are focused on “risk” as much and perhaps more than many mainstream institutions.

Big issues for ICCR members in recent years includes the focus on corporate political spending (lobbying, contributions); and, strategies / policies / actions / disclosures (and especially lack thereof) on the part of companies in member investment portfolios.

Says the coalition:  “ICCR members advocate for greater transparency around how company resources are used to impact elections, regulations and public policy.”

ICCR through member organizations engages with corporate boards and managements to discuss issues of importance to members, who operate in “a multi-stakeholder collaboration.”  Typically, brand names among public companies are the enterprises engaged for discussion.  Changes made at the brand names will eventually affect (and result in change) for more companies in the industry or sector or geography.

At G&A Institute we have long had a collaborative relationship with ICCR and see [ICCR] actions as important sustainable investment leadership positioning by key institutional and individual investors on ESG issues — especially in the annual corporate proxy voting seasons.

Recently Al-Jazeera America network broadcast an informative segment featuring ICCR leadership –the program interviews feature Sister Pat Daly (leader of the Tri-State Coalition for Responsible Investment), Sister Barbara Aires (Sisters of Charity of Paterson NJ), and ICCR Chair Father Seamus Finn, OMI (Missionary of Oblates of Mary Immaculate).

Father Finn is a regular contributor to The Huffington Post — his very readable posts are at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/rev-seamus-p-finn-omi/

Sister Pat, the segment reported, filed 20 proxy resolutions and had corporate engagement meetings in 2014.

The segment is available on line at:  https://ajam.app.boxcn.net/s/7bkt7oc4mpymnfuow3g3

Worth noting:  In December, JP Morgan Chase released a report on changes in how the company does business; ICCR member institutions invested in JPMC welcomed the public release of the report.

Stay Tuned to ICCR in the new year — it’s an important capital markets force…”Inspired by faith, committed to action.”

ICCR is led by Executive Director Laura Berry; you can learn more about her at:   https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HJ4PzEpyiD4; information on ICCR is at:  www.iccr.org

 

Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Water Utilities Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Water Utilities Sector? 

35-water-utilitiesRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Water Utilities Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 7 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Water Utilities Sector are:

  1. Water
  2. Customer Privacy
  3. Assessment
  4. Remediation
  5. Local Communities
  6. Indigenous Rights
  7. Customer Health and Safety
  8. Public Policy
  9. Products and Services
  10. Product and Service Labeling

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Water Utilities Sector study are:

Energie Wasser Bern (EWB), Evraziyskiy, Hua Yan Water, Manila Water Company, Rosvodokanal, The Macao Water Supply Co Ltd, Xylem

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com)

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Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Waste Management Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Waste Management Sector? 

34-waste-managementRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Waste Management Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 15 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Waste Management Sector are:

  1. Materials
  2. Overall (Environmental)
  3. Transport
  4. Diversity and Equal Opportunity
  5. Energy
  6. Local Communities
  7. Biodiversity
  8. Non-Discrimination
  9. Employment
  10. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Waste Management Sector study are:

AGR, ARA Altstoff Recycling Austria, Beelen, CESPA, FCC Division de Medio Ambiente, Lipor, Pavoni, Reclay Group, Saubermacher Dienstleistungs AG, Shanks Group plc, SIGRE, TERSA, TRATOLIXO, Van Gansewinkel Group, Waste Management

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com).

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Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Universities Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Universities Sector? 

33-universitiesRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Universities Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 5 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Universities Sector are:

  1. Equal Remuneration for Women and Men
  2. Customer Privacy
  3. Materials
  4. Product and Service Labeling
  5. Marketing Communications
  6. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  7. Market Presence
  8. Transport
  9. Diversity and Equal Opportunity
  10. Biodiversity

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Universities Sector study are:

Ball State University, La Trobe University, Leuphana University of Lueneburg, Universidad Internacional de Andalucía (UNIA), University of Calgary

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com).

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Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Travel & Tourism Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Travel & Tourism Sector? 

32-tourismRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Travel & Tourism Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 15 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Travel & Tourism Sector are:

  1. Customer Privacy
  2. Security Practices
  3. Non-Discrimination
  4. Indigenous Rights
  5. Public Policy
  6. Child Labor
  7. Labor/Management Relations
  8. Remediation
  9. Compliance
  10. Customer Health and Safety

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Travel & Tourism Sector study are:

AIDA Cruises, Caesars Entertainment, Hyatt International, Kungliga Dramatiska Teatern, Marriott International, MCI, NH Hoteles, P&O Cruises Australia, Rezidor Hotel Group, Sol Meliá, Studiosus Reisen, The HSH Group, Thomas Cook Group, TUI AG, Unimed Campinas

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com).

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Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Tobacco Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Tobacco Sector? 

31-tobaccoRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Tobacco Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 5 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Tobacco Sector are:

  1. Marketing Communications
  2. Water
  3. Materials
  4. Child Labor
  5. Overall (Environmental)
  6. Anti-Competitive Behavior
  7. Corruption
  8. Product and Service Labeling
  9. Customer Privacy
  10. Public Policy

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Tobacco Sector study are:

British American Tobacco (Holdings), British American Tobacco Korea, Imperial Tobacco, KT&G, Swedish Match

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com)

# # #

 

Philanthropy Over Policy Equals Plutocracy

LarryChecco_Photo_LargeGuest commentary by Larry Checco

Philanthropy verses policy. What’s at stake? In the United States of America, perhaps our entire democratic process.

At a recent Brookings Institution event that focused on income inequality, John Prideaux, Washington correspondent for The Economist, was asked what a “good unequal society” would look like.

Prideaux replied that “a lot of the things we think are public goods would be provided for privately…in a sort of philanthropic way.” He added that this would entail a revival “of the 18th century idea of the obligation of those at the top of the income spectrum towards those at the bottom. (my emphasis)”

Prideaux gave an off-handed example of how the Gates Foundation perhaps — his fingers crossed — could provide better “welfare” to the people than “any government bureaucracy.”

Fast forward to a recent op ed piece in The Washington Post, written by a husband and wife team of obvious affluence, influence, and good will.

John and Carol Saeman, both devout Catholics, give generously of their time and treasure to the charitable works of their church (John is president of an investment and management company), as well as to other more laic (nonclerical, lay) organizations, including those run by people such as the billionaire Koch Brothers.

“Helping the poor…requires a fundamental change in how our society—and government—understands and seeks to address poverty,” they say in their op ed piece. “For us, promoting limited government alongside the Kochs” is in keeping with “Pope Francis’ call to love and serve the poor.”

The Koch organization that the Saeman’s ardently support is called Freedom Partners, a nonprofit organization composed of around 200 members, each paying a minimum US$100,000 in annual dues.

In 2012, Freedom Partners raised $256 million, making grants worth a total of $236 million to conservative organizations prior to the midterm elections, including Tea Party groups and organizations opposed to The Affordable Care Act. Your average middle class guy is probably not a member.

Regardless of the politics they embrace, wittingly or unwittingly, both Prideaux and the Saeman’s put forth the perfect scenario for a plutocracy—namely a society where wealthy people like the Koch brothers, the Gateses and others should determine and finance the common good verses employing the democratic process of the people.

In short, they are advocating philanthropy over policy, which leads us down a very slippery slope, folks.

When government works, policy reflects the will of We, the People. We elect political leaders whose job it is to pass laws and appropriate funds that promote the common good. If we don’t like the laws they pass or the funds they appropriate we have the opportunity, privilege and right to vote them out.

When it comes to philanthropy, as someone who has worked in the nonprofit sector for the better part of four decades, I can say with great confidence we run the real and great risk of relying on the kindness—and whimsy—of strangers.

If a huge philanthropic organization like the Gates Foundation decides to change course, what recourse do we, the people, have? Nada.

As imperfect and dysfunctional as our government is, I’m not willing to hand it over to the rich, regardless of their noble and good intentions—especially when it comes to defining the common good. Over the past 30 years or so, we’ve witnessed how that good has often translated into less taxes for them and less good for the rest of us.

One last point.

In their op ed piece, the Saeman’s make the argument that our welfare system encourages dependency and denies dignity to the poor. They leave out the fact that many people who work 40 hours a week at minimum wage for major corporations like Wal-Mart, McDonalds and many other large, well-heeled corporations lose dignity by having to rely on government programs to make ends meet, including food stamps.

BTW– in 2012, Forbes reported that just six Walmart heirs have as much wealth as 42 percent of all Americans. Say what!

Want to give people dignity? Rather than philanthropy, let’s pay hardworking folks a wage they can live and raise a family on. I guarantee you that people like the Waltons, Kochs and others in their economic stratosphere won’t miss a meal by doing so—and we won’t have to rely as much on their philanthropy.

# # #

Larry Checco is principal of Checco Communications, a consulting firm that helps organizations define who they are, what they do, how they do it–and why anyone should care. Contact:  www.checcocomm.net

Contents © 2014 by Larry Checco – All Rights Reserved

Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Textiles & Apparel Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Textiles & Apparel Sector? 

30-textiles-and-apparel

Recent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Textiles & Apparel Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 12 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Textiles & Apparel Sector are:

  1. Transport
  2. Prevention of Forced and Compulsory Labor
  3. Child Labor
  4. Investment and Procurement Practices
  5. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
  6. Customer Health and Safety
  7. Security Practices
  8. Customer Privacy
  9. Diversity and Equal Opportunity
  10. Non-Discrimination

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Textiles & Apparel Sector study are:

Adidas Group, American Eagle Outfitters, CALIDA, Gildan, H&M (Hennes & Mauritz), Lojas Renner S.A., Milteks, Nike, PPR SA, Puma, SLN Tekstil ve Moda San.Tic.Ltd.Sti., The Timberland Company

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com).

# # #

 

Top 10 GRI Sustainability Aspects for the Telecommunications Sector

Sustainability – What Matters in the Telecommunications Sector? 

29-telecommunicationsRecent research conducted by the Governance & Accountability Institute attempts to answer important questions for company managements in the Telecommunications Sector, by examining the disclosure practices of 70 global peer organizations publishing GRI reports in the sector.

The top 10 Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) aspects that were determined to be material by the managements of reporting organizations in the Telecommunications Sector are:

  1. Customer Privacy
  2. Marketing Communications
  3. Indirect Economic Impacts
  4. Non-Discrimination
  5. Child Labor
  6. Prevention of Forced and Compulsory Labor
  7. Labor/Management Relations
  8. Product and Service Labeling
  9. Compliance
  10. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining

Results:  The complimentary report examining 35 sectors including top 10 GRI aspects, and top/bottom 10 GRI performance indicators can be downloaded here:
www.ga-institute.com/sustainability-what-matters

The full rankings for all 84 GRI performance indicators and all 37 GRI Aspects for each of the 35 sectors examined are available for purchase at:
www.ga-institute.com/getall84

Organizations included in the Telecommunications Sector study are:

Albanian Mobile Communications, Alcatel-Lucent, Altron (Allied Electronics Corporation Limited), AT&T, AXTEL, Bell Canada, Blue Label Telecoms, Cosmote, Cosmote Romania, Deutsche Telekom, DGC One AB, Dialog Axiata, Digi.com Berhad, DNA, Elisa Oyj, E-Plus Gruppe, Ericsson, ETB, Etisalat Lanka (Private) Limited, Far Eastone Telecommunications, France Telecom – Orange, GLOBE TELECOM, GLOBUL, Hellenic Telecommunications Organization (OTE), Hrvatski Telekom (HT), Huawei NorthAmerica, Infosys Limited, Korea Telecom, KPN, Magyar Telekom, Maxis, MegaFon, MTN Group, Oi, ONO, Portugal Telecom, Qualcomm, Rogers, Rostelecom, Safaricom Limited, SingTel – Singapore Telecommunications Limited, SingTel Optus, Sprint, StarHub, Swisscom, Tele2, Telecom Argentina, Telecom Italia, Telefonica, Telefonica Colombia, Telekom Austria, Telekom Malaysia, Telekom Slovenije, Telekomunikasi Indonesia, Telenor Group, TeliaSonera, Telkom, Telstra, Telus, TIM Participações, Turkcell, UNE, UPC, Vodacom, Vodafone Espana, Vodafone Greece, Vodafone Italy, Vodafone Magyarország, Wind Hellas Telecommunication, Zain Group Kuwait

About G&A Institute (www.ga-institute.com)
G&A Institute is a New York-based, private sector company providing sustainability-focused services and resources to corporate and investment community clients, including: Issue Counseling & Sustainability Strategies; Sustainability Reporting; Materiality Assessments; Stakeholder Engagement; Benchmarking; Investor Relations; Communications; Coaching, Team Building & Training;  Issues Monitoring & Customized Research; Third Party Recognitions.  G&A is the exclusive Data Partner for the GRI in the United States of America, the United Kingdom and the Republic of Ireland.

Editors
On the G&A Institute web site there is additional information available on the Fact Sheet: What Matters Project (www.ga-institute.com/research-reports/sustainability-what-matters/fact-sheet).  The resulting “most important” to “least important” ranking for the 35 sectors is available to media on a case-by-case basis please contact:  Peter Hamilton (phamilton@ga-institute.com).

# # #

Corporate Human Rights Performance — Benchmarking and Ranking of Global Companies

by Hank Boerner – G&A Institute

Interesting news out of Switzerland today — the first wide scale project to rank up to 500 global companies on their human rights performance was launched, and corporate human rights performance in key sectors will be researched and ranked over the coming months.  The first sectors in focus are Agriculture, Apparel, Extractives, and Information and Communications Technology.

This is the new Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (“CHRB”).

The organizers of the long-term project include Aviva Investors; Business and Human Rights Resource Center; EIRIS; the Institute for Human Rights and Business; and VBDO (a sustainable investment forum for SR investors in the Netherlands).  The Corporate Roundtable (ICAR) has endorsed the project.

In announcing the project, the organizers said that investors, companies and consumers are increasingly aware of the impacts of business on human rights.  The project will share the first publicly-available (open source) information on corporate policies, processes and performance on human rights…including what managements are doing to address negative impacts, and what they can do to scale resources.

Among recent positive developments the organizers citied:

  • A year after the Rana Plaza factory fire in Bangladesh, the Bangladesh Accord has spurred on greater transparency, with increased public reporting on factory inspections.
  • Beverage industry giants Coca Cola Company and PepsiCo have committed to Zero Tolerance policies on “land grabs.”
  • The European Union is committed to restricting exports of spyware surveillance technologies because of human rights concerns.
  • The recently-adopted Conflict Mineral legislation in the United States has resulted in a 65% drop in armed groups profiting from illegal mining trade.

Backgrounds of the partnering organizations in the project:

  • Aviva Investors – global asset management business, and part of Aviva plc, one of the UK’s largest insurance services providers.
  • Business and Human Rights Resource Centre – international NGO that tracks human rights impact of 5,600 companies in 180+ countries, with information available in 7 languages.
  • Calvert Investments – influential US investment management firm and long-time recognized leader in advancing sustainable & responsible investment strategies.
  • EIRIS – global leader in ESG research and SRI strategies (UK based with members in the EU).
  • Institute for Human Rights and Business – global “think and do” tank, providing “impartial space for dialogue to deepen understanding of human rights challenges and the [appropriate] role of business.”
  • VBDO – The Dutch association of institutional investors promoting  sustainable development; members consider both financial and ESG criteria for their investments.

Over the next 3 years the 6 organizations — organized as the “CHRB Steering Group” — will conduct a worldwide “consultation” on the methodology and results with diverse stakeholders, and collect and release information on 500 companies’ human rights performance.  The information will be open source, and available to company managements, investors, the public sector, local communities, and NGOs.

Steve Waygood of Aviva Investors commented:  “Our benchmark will introduce a positive competitive environment and companies try to race to the top of the annual ranking.  [The effort] will also shine a light on those [companies] where performance needs to improve.

“It took more than 60 years from the signing of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights before the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights were developed.

“We believe that within 6 years of their approval, we can help to make these Guiding Principles routine corporate practice through the development and use of the Benchmark.”

Information is available through EIRIS:  contact is Stephen Hine, head of Responsible Investment Development – Stephen.hine@eiris.org

Note that the team at Governance & Accountability Institute identifies, tracks and monitors third party recognitions of companies for a variety of [their] achievements. These include scores, rankings, ratings, and “best of” lists.  This is definitely a growth business, and the third party actions can have influence on a company’s reputation and capital markets valuation.  Investors and other third parti4s will be watching the new human rights benchmarking as the project moves forward.