On World Mental Health Day, CCLA Investment Management, the UK’s largest charity fund manager, has launched the first-ever global benchmark on the management and disclosure of corporate mental health, covering 100 of the world’s largest listed companies.

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100 Report evaluates these employers on how they  approach and manage workplace mental health.

The benchmark aims to serve as an important engagement tool and accountability mechanism for responsible investors, and to help companies create conditions in which employees can thrive.

But, according to CCLA, there are also financial benefits for companies in using the benchmark.

Amy Browne, stewardship lead at CCLA, said: “There is clear evidence to show that improving the mental health of an organisation saves money, and that the financial ramifications of failing to improve corporate mental health are profound. According to a study by Deloitte, mental ill health in the workplace costs employers annually an average of US$1,900 per private sector employee.”

But she added: “When it comes to integrating mental health into formal management systems and processes, most global companies have much further to go.”

Companies were selected based on their market capitalisation (at January 2022) and their workforce size (companies with 10,000 or more employees).

They represent 16 countries and 10 industry sectors, classified using the Global Industry Classification Standard (GICS). In all, these companies have a combined workforce of around 19 million employees.

The information was publicly available from sources including annual reports, company websites and social media, and was assessed during June 2022.

These public disclosures on workplace mental health were evaluated using 27 assessment criteria across four major themes: management commitment and policy; governance and management; leadership and innovation; and performance reporting and impact.

Each company was invited to comment on its own preliminary assessment report, before the scores were finalised and the final assessment report produced, with a set of bespoke recommendations.

Based on their scoring against these criteria, the benchmark ranks companies across five tiers according to the maturity of their approach to managing and reporting on workplace mental health. Most companies fall into Tiers 3, 4 and 5.

Only one company – HSBC – achieved a Tier 1 ranking, with AstraZeneca, BHP Group and Unilever in Tier 2.

The analysis showed that while nine out of 10 companies recognise workplace mental health as an important business concern, less than half (49%) have formalised these commitments in a policy.

Furthermore, just 15% of companies have published objectives or targets for mental health, and only 19% have assigned day-to-day operational responsibility for implementing their mental health policies.

At boardroom level, public chief executive officer leadership is lacking, said CCLA.

While almost one-third (28%) of companies assessed have a clearly stated position on promoting a culture of openness on mental health, only 19% of company CEOs have publicly signalled their leadership commitment.

The new benchmark complements the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – UK 100, launched last May.

Both will run annually, with the UK benchmark published in the second quarter each year, and the global benchmark in October.

Chronos Sustainability, a specialist sustainability advisory firm with expertise in targeted benchmark initiatives, advises CCLA on the design and development of both benchmarks and analyses the data.

An expert advisory panel, made up of independent workplace mental health experts and specialist practitioners, provides independent technical guidance.

CCLA is also building a coalition for its global investor statement on workplace mental health, with 34 institutional investors representing $7trn of assets under management signed up so far.

The statement affirms their belief that protecting and promoting good workplace mental health is a business imperative, relevant not only to a company’s duty of care to its employees but also to its bottom line.

Signatories include Achmea, Church Commissioners for England, Federated Hermes, Fondo Cometa, Railpen, and Stichting Pensionfonds voor Huisartsen.

Investors commit to using the CCLA corporate mental health benchmarks to encourage companies in taking actions including committing to encouraging a culture of openness on mental health, setting objectives and targets to improve workplace mental health and reporting annually on progress against these targets.

From Q1 2023, CCLA will organise signatories into collective working groups to focus on companies in Tier 5 of the benchmark, to encourage and drive their corporate mental health programmes.

Federated Hermes appointed for pair of fixed income mandates

CCLA has picked Federated Hermes to manage two of its fixed income funds – the CBF Church of England Fixed Interest Securities Fund and the COIF Charities Fixed Interest Fund.

Client relationship management, oversight and fund administration and determining the funds’ investment exclusions policy remains the responsibility of CCLA, it was announced.

CCLA said it aims to deliver sustainable risk-adjusted returns to its clients in a way that aligns with their values and furthers their mission. Sharing similar values and philosophy, the fixed income team at Federated Hermes has been appointed for its innovative and progressive approach to responsible investing, CCLA noted.

The Federated Hermes team will “embed forward-looking sustainability appraisals into their investment process using its proprietary framework which assesses sustainability and ESG factors of a company, including progress and impact towards decarbonisation, within the investment limitations established by CCLA”, it added.

The team will also draw upon expertise from EOS at Federated Hermes, the firm’s stewardship team arm advising on $1.6trn of assets, to incorporate engagement insights into their decision making.

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