Asset managers support labour standards campaign group
An investor coalition pushing companies for better data on labour standards has higher ambitions after a successful pilot year, according to an announcement this week.
Since being launched in July last year, the Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) has attracted more than 20 additional investor signatories, including Aviva, BMO Global Asset Management, and PGGM, which manages the €197bn Dutch healthcare pension scheme PFZW. More than $12trn (€10trn) in assets under management back the initiative.
Encouraged by the response to a survey sent to 75 companies last year, the WDI has significantly increased the project’s targeted reach.
“After a successful pilot year, the WDI is scaling up and approaching 500 companies headquartered in 30 countries, including Canada, India, Japan and the US,” said ShareAction, which co-ordinates the initiative.
A survey asking the companies for improved data on issues such as diversity, workers’ rights, and health and safety in supply chains, was sent yesterday. Targeted companies include Apple, Alibaba, BAE, Tesla, and Louis Vuitton. The selection criteria were market capitalisation, companies’ significance within their sector, and workforce size.
Vaidehee Sachdev, senior research officer at ShareAction, said: “From the pilot year of the WDI, we learned that, while there appears to be a promising step change in the way companies and investors are now approaching labour standards, there is a long road ahead to get to the level of transparency we need for decent work everywhere.
“Based on the quality of data collected and currently being reported, companies need to move away from only reporting on their policy intentions and good news stories.”
The WDI’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of jobs in the operations and supply chains of multinational companies. It said this would contribute towards poverty alleviation and achieving “decent work for all”, one of the UN Sustainable Development Goals.
Matt Christensen, global head of responsible investment at AXA Investment Managers, said companies had been reinforcing their reporting on environmental topics in recent years and “we wish to see a similar effort with social factors”.