Ethical Hub : Ethical Reviews - Ethical Investment Review June 2022

Mining

Mining continues to feature as a main ethical focus for us as we seek to ensure companies are contributing to the just transition. Our engagement efforts, alongside Federated Hermes and Robeco, contributed to Anglo American’s climate strategy at their most recent AGM. It is worth noting that the strategy features a scope 3 ambition: a first in the mining sector.

Stewardship Code

One of our main efforts during this reporting period has been the submission of the FRC Stewardship Code renewal. The FRC Stewardship Code sets high stewardship standards for those investing money on behalf of UK clients. Stewardship is the responsible allocation, management and oversight of capital to create long-term value for clients and beneficiaries leading to sustainable benefits for the economy, the environment and society. After a successful submission in 2021, the team submitted the 2022 renewal ahead of the early submission deadline. The latest Stewardship Code report reflects the suggestions made by the FRC on our previous submission, as well as integrating case studies into every reported principle. Importantly, our FRC submission makes public our commitment to serving people and planet through investment. Details of our submission can be found on our website.

Rio Tinto

As mentioned in previous reporting periods, we featured in the Sunday Times as one of the only investors willing to make serious comment after the mining company Rio Tinto published a report detailing systemic workplace toxicity including incidents of criminal harassment, rape and racism with their company. We remain committed to standing in solidarity with the victims and to driving change.

In this reporting period, we have had follow-up meetings the Rio Tinto’s Chief People Officer and are pleased to report that the company has committed to re-conducting the independent report in 2 years’ time. We feel this not only indicates a willingness to be transparent, but also helps ensure Rio’s targets for a safer more inclusive working environment are met.

Following the Rio Tinto people’s report, we have begun to work with International Women in Mining and the Development Partner Institute to form a coalition of investors seeking to improve safety and wellbeing standards for women in the mining sector. Our first meeting will take place in August, followed by a roundtable in November.

HSBC

In November 2021, the Bureau of Investigative Journalism broke a story regarding HSBC, alleging that it was working to water down action on climate change through the Net-Zero Banking Alliance to which it is a signatory. Epworth featured in this article, which has been nominated for ESG story of the year. HSBC led big banks’ charge against climate change action — The Bureau of Investigative Journalism (en-GB) (thebureauinvestigates.com)

We virtually attended the HSBC AGM to continue our engagement with the company. We put in a question on the bank’s stance on the Russian invasion of Ukraine, to which we didn’t receive a response. We continue to discuss a variety of topics with the company and will follow up on this in due course.

Corporate Governance

Q2 remains the busy season for voting, with most of the global companies within our portfolios holding AGMs. We therefore voted at over 200 AGMs, with a continued focus on executive remuneration and director election. We continue to vote in line with our Church Investors Group policy and are looking at new ways to link our voting with our new pillars strategy. Details of our pillars can be found on our website