Cometa, the Italian supplementary pension fund for the metal industry with assets worth more than €13bn, has changed its voting policy at annual general meetings (AGMs) to reinforce the engagement on social aspects of listed companies it owns in Italy and Europe.

The new voting policy is based on the principles of the national collective bargaining agreement – Contratto Collettivo Nazionale di Lavoro (CCNL) – applying to the metalworker sector in Italy.

The founding principles of the collective barraging contract, which will guide Cometa during AGMs, relate to the health and safety on workplaces, growth and employment stability, integration of migrant workers, equal opportunities, protection of motherhood and paternity, support for contractual welfare initiatives, training for workers, environmental protection and transparency in corporate governance, the pension fund said in a statement.

Cometa intends to support workers’ rights, alongside the values and the social model agreed by the founding partners of the metalworker sector, it added in the statement to explain the shift in voting policy.

Chair Riccardo Realfonso said: “The national collective bargaining agreement for metalworkers […] guides Cometa’s action in supporting workers’ rights and promoting an advanced social model in the [shareholders] meetings of companies listed on the European markets in which Cometa itself invests.”

Cometa has shifted its policy following the approval by the board of directors of the documents on the voting and engagement policy in February, and of the document to implement the changes approved at the end of June.

The documents commit the board of directors of Cometa to take part in AGMs where significant decisions on social aspects relating to the operation of the companies have to be taken, expressing a positive or negative vote and any accompanying declarations.

So far, the Italian pension fund has actively voted on social issues in the six shareholders’ meetings of Intesa San Paolo bank, energy group Enel, postal service group Poste Italiane, of the pharmaceutical company Recordati, biotechnology firm Diasorin, and of PayTech company Nexi.

At the six AGMs Cometa voted in favour of shareholders’ resolutions to support female representation at board level and in the board of auditors.

The pension fund is also in the midst of a process to pick an advisor that can assist in studying the documentation relating to the shareholders’ meetings of the companies, to ultimately better exercise its voting rights, it said.

Renewed engagement

Cometa is renewing its engagement on ESG aspects for its invested companies. The pension fund has decided to strengthen the monitoring of the ESG performance of its portfolio.

It has also started to analyse energy transition strategies and the carbon footprint of its invested companies.

Moreover, Cometa has imposed on asset managers a more challenging sustainability score, rewarding those demonstrating a rigorous approach to sustainable investing during the selection process.

It has decided to establish a periodic review of companies involved in serious disputes, or active in controversial sectors. The review can lead to engagement actions and divestments.

Cometa also intends to engage with invested companies involved in disputes because of misleading advertising and greenwashing, it said.

The pension fund has opted to join nine international consortiums engaged on specific ESG aspects, from the protection of biodiversity to the fight against deforestation and plastic pollution, and aspects relating to the governance of companies, it added.

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