Ethical Hub : Ethical Reviews - Ethical Investment Review September 2022

Stewardship Code

Following our efforts last quarter in submitting the FRC Stewardship Code for renewal, we were delighted that we received approval of our latest report. The FRC Stewardship Code sets high stewardship standards for those investing money on behalf of UK clients. 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.

Nestle

We met with representatives from Nestle to discuss a range of ethical issues. This built on the engagement started years ago regarding Breast Milk Substitutes and has now broadened out to include nutrition and health, as well as other topics such as the climate emergency and modern slavery.

The company’s 2021 Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking report was very insightful to the work it has been undertaking across the world, including in the UK. We were able to discuss the factors that affect supply chains in the UK as they relate to Nestle and hear about the processes they have in place to find, fix, and prevent modern slavery.

MJ Gleeson

In our latest meeting with management, we were able to further discuss the efforts MJ Gleeson, a housebuilder we hold, is making to improve its environmental performance and reporting. Gleeson made fantastic improvements in recent years in this area in response to our regular engagement with the company.

The latest improvements it has made has included diversifying its brick suppliers and increasingly switching away from clay bricks in favour of concrete bricks, which have half the embedded carbon and are more readily available. Concrete bricks are less in favour across the industry due to traditionally being heavier and harder to work with, but management have tested this at several sites and believe the differences are minimal these days.

MJ Gleeson is also increasingly using reconstituted bricks made from recycled materials where possible, which have good availability but have traditionally been more expensive than clay bricks; but the recent inflation in traditional brick prices has significantly closed this financial gap though.

HSBC

We continue to be active in engaging with HSBC. This quarter we met with IR representatives from the company and were able to ask questions regarding the work they are undertaking on human rights due diligence, as well as the climate emergency and how this links with internal culture.

Corporate Governance

Q3 is a quieter time for company AGMs. We voted at 45 meetings, voting against half of company’s remuneration reports in line with our Church Investors Group policy. Meetings began with our voting partners during this quarter as to what the next iteration of the policy will look like and discussing where we can strengthen our voting going forward.