Heavyweight coalition of investors backs better workplaces

Heavyweight coalition of investors backs better workplaces

A coalition of 79 institutional investors with almost $8trn (£6trn) in assets behind them are demanding companies disclose more information on their workforce. 

A belief that good employment practices lead to financial returns is the key motivation behind the group, which brings together institutions from 10 countries, including Schroders, HSBC Asset Management, Nordea and NEST.

The investors coalition wants to scrutinise companies’ policies and practices, and to establish how companies rank alongside their peers when it comes to managing workforce risk and opportunities.

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The investors are founding signatories of the Workforce Disclosure Initiative, a project devised and coordinated by ShareAction and funded by the UK’s Department for International Development.

Surveyed companies include 50 of the largest FTSE-listed firms, plus 25 traded on seven other exchanges. The plan is for more firms to be added to the list, and the range of information to be enhanced, encompassing governance of a wide circle of workforce issues including staff training and development.

Jeannette Andrews, corporate governance manager at Legal & General Investment Management, said: “As a large and long-term investor, information on a company’s culture and employee engagement is important to understand the sustainability of business practices and long-term prospects.

Kelly Christodoulou, governance manager of investments at pension fund AustralianSuper, said: “We believe integrating workforce issues into our investment process will improve long-term value and returns for members. 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.”