Our approach to stewardship stems from our belief that company management, directors and investors all have critical yet unique roles.
We believe that the proper consideration of relevant environmental, social and governance (ESG) matters affects the long-term sustainable performance of companies and benefits the investors of such companies.
To this end, we:
- seek to understand the ESG issues that impact companies in which we are invested;
- evaluate a company’s particular policies and practices in relation to relevant issues;
- encourage companies to align with best practice on ESG issues;
- enter into constructive dialogue and engagement where a company’s approach or practices on relevant ESG matters is below investor expectations;
- leverage our clients’ investor rights to push for desired outcomes from investee companies; and
- align our votes at general meetings with our engagement objectives.
Our engagements in 2020 were naturally affected by the coronavirus pandemic and lockdown. Despite the new challenges, they remained driven by our long term conviction in key thematic areas that we consider most urgent and material for investors – climate change, biodiversity and human capital, alongside gender diversity, public health, data privacy and corporate governance.
Driving positive change in 2021 and beyond
In 2021, we will continue to focus on expanding our engagement efforts across areas which we believe to be most material for investors, including:
- Climate change: Throughout 2020 we undertook active participation in key industry initiatives such as the Climate Action 100+, where we led engagement with numerous companies in carbon-intensive sectors. In 2021 and beyond, we will continue engaging with companies, including those already committed, to understand in detail how they intend to achieve their climate objectives.
- Biodiversity loss: Our research-led approach to engagement on biodiversity saw a positive response from companies and other investors. We will look to continue these discussions as we further broaden the scope of our engagement, supported by the selection of our biodiversity data provider in September 2020.
- Gender equality: Following the launch of the 30% Club France Investor Group in November 2020, we will continue to co-chair the Group in 2021. We will also continue to push companies on diversity right across their businesses and pipeline, challenging how companies develop diverse talent pools internally.
- Public health: In 2020, we led engagement with healthcare companies in partnership with the Access to Medicine Foundation to support a more efficient and positive response to COVID-19. In 2021 and beyond, the focus will remain on promoting responsible behaviour and to boost the pace and resilience of the global economy’s recovery from the pandemic.
Our corporate governance & voting policy
Our approach to corporate governance and voting derives from our strongly held belief that company management, directors, and investors all have critical and unique roles to play in sustaining the health of financial markets and ensuring the efficient allocation of capital.
How we exercised our voting rights in 2020
Extraordinary and unprecedented. These now familiar words describe all our private and working lives over 2020 – and they also capture the nature of corporate activity. Companies have been forced to adapt at a faster rate than at any time in living memory as the impact of the pandemic and its aftermath became clear. During the year we exercised our clients’ voting rights globally in line with our investment footprint.
Our voting priorities for 2021
Much of the focus this year will be on how companies have responded to the pandemic. The themes will include employee safety and protection, dividend policy and capital raisings, how executive pay has aligned with the wider workforce impact and how board actions during the year were able to manage systemic risks.