Correlation of Business Ethics and Corporate Culture - 5 Lessons from the Banking Industry

To protect a company’s reputation and economic position, its employees play an essential part in organisational risk mitigation strategy by demonstrating consideration for systemic business risk, taking accountability, and being willing to escalate concerns. Companies with a strong, ethical corporate culture have much to gain—improved employee performance, morale, and retention, and in the long run, bolstering the bottom line.

What Happens When Companies are Receptive to Investor Feedback on ESG?

When companies are receptive to investor feedback, there are clear real-world impacts and positive changes. Such engagement outcomes vary and are directly tied to the company and its company-specific exposure to material ESG issues.

biodiversity and ESG stewardship

3 Reasons to Skill Up and Scale Up ESG Stewardship in 2022

As our clients and the industry at large focus on proactively mitigating risk and capitalizing on this evolving landscape, stewardship will be a key lever for savvy investors—particularly those facing external pressure to divest. Here are the ESG themes we see influencing stewardship priorities this year.

SFDR EU taxonomy

SFDR and EU Taxonomy Product Disclosure Rules Finally Released

The publication of these rules marks the end of a prolonged period of uncertainty in the market around final rules and timelines - assuming the RTS will be adopted as-is in a Delegated Act, which turns these rules into regulation. There are several noteworthy aspects to these rules, which we address from our perspective in this article.

Responsible Investing

Recent market trends put engagement and voting front and centre for responsible investors

From a market perspective, engagement and voting on governance issues have been used as levers for influence for a long time. On the other hand, environmental and social issues were historically addressed from a values-based perspective or primarily for fact-finding purposes. Today, many responsible investors leverage corporate dialogue as a tool to influence and drive meaningful change and impact

North American Material Risk Engagement Trends: ESG Reporting Frameworks, Emission Reduction Targets and Beyond

There are many factors that rating agencies consider within its overall assessment. For example, ESG rating companies tend to look for at least three years of ESG metrics to determine company trends and long-term ESG targets, goals, and strategies to manage and reduce ESG risks at least five years ahead. Read on to learn about how Sustainalytics' Material Risk Engagement program promotes and protects long-term value by engaging with high-risk companies on financially-material ESG issues. (A North American Snapshot)

Drill in ocean

Royal Dutch Shell Court Order Shifts Paradigm for Corporate ESG Accountability

On 26 May 2021, the Court of The Hague orders Royal Dutch Shell (RDS) to reduce CO2 emissions to a net 45% by the end of 2030 compared to 2019 through the Group Policy of the Shell Group. The order of a national (Dutch) court demands that a global company (RDS) fulfills its obligations under the Paris Climate Agreement, although RDS was not a party in that agreement, and there is no legal equivalent in The Netherlands. What are the broader consequences of this order, also globally and for other companies and potentially also other jurisdictions?

10 ESG Themes to Watch in 2019

This year’s instalment of our 10 for series – 10 for 2019: Systemic Risks Loom Large – explores 10 environmental, social and governance (ESG) themes that could affect global investment portfolios in 2019.

10 for 2021 report

10 for 2021: Investing in the Circular Economy

This report aims to support investors interested in gauging environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities in the global food value chain. We survey key subindustries – from agrochemicals, agriculture and aquaculture to packaged food, food retail and restaurants – in search of solutions that may support the principles of the circular economy (CE). These principles include minimizing waste and pollution, extending the use-phase of products and ecosystem regeneration. Some of the key insights found in the report are:

Integrating Climate Risk into Corporate Governance

Since the introduction of the Taskforce on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD), there has been increased scrutiny of corporate climate governance and broader associated risks. Investors have increased their focus on climate risk, as governance mechanisms are likely to be impacted by transition and physical risk challenges[i].

Two Sides of the Corporate Taxation Debate

There is a growing awareness of how, and how much, corporations pay in taxes. This heightened cognizance has led to on-going public debates regarding the inherently unfair structure of many global corporate tax systems.

Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation: An Industry Game-changer

In recent months, the Sustainable Finance Disclosure Regulation (SFDR) has been sparking almost as much debate as the EU Taxonomy – both cornerstone regulations of the EU Sustainable Finance Action Plan. With the SFDR set to redefine ESG disclosures and make a significant impact on financial market participants in Europe, the short timeline and ambiguity on several vital details are creating confusion and concern in the industry. The risk of organizations not being able to comply in time is still present, despite the announced delay in timelines for the technical standards, as is the risk of high financial and operational costs for the industry.

A Pipeline for Strategic ESG Risk Mitigation

Given the ESG impacts often associated pipeline projects, it is reasonable to say that pipelines have been a source of controversy in North America and around the world. In 2020 alone, several major pipeline projects face high levels of public and community-based opposition; with consequences including widespread protests (as was the case for TC Energy’s Coastal GasLink project at the beginning of this year) and large-scale regulatory and legal challenges (as seen currently with the Dakota Access Pipeline).

If the proxy vote is your voice, what are you saying?

To date, 2020 has marked record inflows to sustainable investments[1]. Elevated globally by a health, social and financial crisis; investors and stakeholders alike are coming to understand the inherent risk of ignoring key environmental, social and governance factors. Current events coupled with new regulations and stakeholder pressure are creating the need for investors to demonstrate their commitment as responsible owners who view corporate accountability as a means to achieving greater long-term value.

ESG at a Reasonable Price in China

Over the last decade, portfolio managers worldwide have been increasingly convinced that incorporating environmental, social, and governance (ESG) criteria into investment decisions could provide better risk-adjusted returns. As a result, responsible investing, has moved from a niche activity to the mainstream. As more capital shifts to ESG products, there have been discussions regarding the risk of an ESG bubble as stocks with good ESG scores have enjoyed price appreciation and sometimes go beyond fundamentals[i].

Building Back Better for the Next Normal

‘Build back better’ has become the new mantra for post-COVID-19 hopes and ambitions. As people, companies and governments are coming to terms with the crisis and starting to consider the post-pandemic world, many are realizing that going back to how things were is neither possible nor desirable. Just like disruptive technologies throughout modern history have swept away what humanity thought was the best or only solution and replaced it with something superior, the disruption brought on by COVID-19 has also opened the door for making and accepting some long-overdue changes. To truly leverage the opportunity to correct the destructive course on many fronts, responses to the pandemic must involve going beyond adapting to the new normal and focus on shaping what we want the next normal to be. Investors can play an important role in this transition by aligning their strategy and active ownership with progressive long-term objectives.

Tomorrow’s Board: Challenges in a Fast-Changing World

The world is changing faster than it ever has. As a result, companies are increasingly facing numerous and complex challenges with both immediate and long-term impacts. Today, companies are facing a health crisis, a social justice crisis and a fallout economic crisis. The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic and the social justice crisis, calling for the end of systemic racism, have reinforced the need for more diverse boards.

COVID-19 and ESG at a Reasonable Price in Australia

“We are living in extraordinary times” seems to be these days’ mantra. It certainly reflects well the dynamics of global share markets, including Australia’s, as shown in the chart below.

Sustainable Fund Labels: Diverse Definitions of Sustainability

Sustainable financial products are marked with an increasingly large list of tags, from green, sustainable, socially responsible to thematic ESG, water, carbon or impact funds, and not every investor might know how to make sense of these terms. Sustainable fund labels can be one way to signal to the market that the fund has a dedicated responsible investment strategy.

ESGarp Scores: In Search of Reasonably Priced, Low ESG Risk Stocks

The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to further amp up the market’s interest in ESG investment research. It’s not just that ESG funds and indices have generally outperformed their non-ESG counterparts since the COVID-19 sell-off began in mid-February.[i] It’s also that the pandemic itself has drawn attention to ESG issues ranging from biodiversity and habitat loss to employee relations and supply chain management.