UK - The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum has written to all companies in the FTSE 350 index enquiring about equal pay for women.
The group representing UK pension funds with assets in total of £60bn (€89bn) wants to make this issue part of its engagement process with companies in which their members hold stock.
As yet the LAPFF has not outlined any action to be taken against companies that do not have equal pay policies in place or have not conducted an equal pay audit yet.
"That is something the forum will have to look into depending on the types of responses that we receive. This is about raising the issue in an initial effort and then to see whether the responses we get flag up any additional issues that need to be addressed", project leader Ebba Schmidt told IPE.
Asked whether the forum would consider recommending pulling out of a company that fails to meet equal pay standards she said: "No. The forum has not made any recommendations of that sort in the past this is really about engagement.
"When it comes to company workforce practices it is not at this stage by many players recognised as a value destroying or value increasing issue. It would be difficult to convince anybody not to invest in a company because of company workforce practices."
However, LAPFF's chairman Darrell Pulk said: "This issue is fast becoming an important new criterion for pension fund investors to be able to assess how companies value their employees, and successfully manage their ‘human capital'."
Similarly Peter Scales, CEO of the London Pension Fund Association, a member of the LAPFF, told IPE: "Our belief is that the better run companies will outperform over time and staff management is an important aspect. It is only by engaging with companies that improvements can be made and better informed investment decisions taken.
"We see the issue of equal pay as one of the extra financial factors upon which companies should be assessed."
He added that: "We are not a negative screener on this or any other SRI issues. Better information could be used by our managers to influence their investment decisions on a balanced long term approach, and that is our ultimate aim."