$4trn investor coalition presses retailers and apparel firms a year on from Rana Plaza

134 institutional investors mark anniversary of Bangladesh building collapse

A global coalition of 134 institutional investors, representing more than $4.1trn (€3trn) of assets under management, have called for stronger commitments from clothing brands and retailers one year on from the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh which claimed 1,138 garment workers’ lives.

The group – led by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) – wants to remind companies of their corporate responsibility to protect, respect and remediate human rights violations throughout their supply chains. Investors backing the call include major institutions such as ERAFP, the French Public Service Additional Pension Scheme, Sweden’s Fjarde AP-fonden (AP4) and Allianz Global Investors, to name just three (see list below).

And the investors will be writing to companies (sample letter) – and following up with dialogues – asking them to donate to the Rana Plaza Donors Trust Fund, which has had just $15m pledged or collected out of an estimated $40m required to meet families’ needs.

The coalition was convened by the 300-member ICCR after the disaster to urge apparel brands and retailers sourcing from Bangladesh to use their collective influence to help institute system-wide changes to ensure workers’ safety.

The investors in a May 16 2013 statement in the wake of the disaster had called for brands and retailers to try to rectify the situation, for example by joining the Accord on Fire and Building Safety, strengthen local trade unions and ensure a living wage among a series of initiatives.

The new statement acknowledges signs of progress and some serious commitments. These include the fact that 160 companies in 20 countries have joined the fire and safety accord, the registration of new unions and the adoption of common inspection standards by both the Accord and the separate Alliance for Worker Safety, which is backed by retailers such as Gap, J.C. Penney and Wal-Mart Stores.But the investor group wants to see better progress on a range of issues. These include a focus on full remediation of factories once inspections are conducted, and improved coordination/harmonization between the Accord and the Alliance to eliminate duplication.

The lead investors in the statement are: Barbara Aires, Sisters of Charity of Saint Elizabeth; Lauren Compere, Boston Common Asset Management; Rev. Seamus P Finn, Missionary Oblates; Bennett Freeman, Calvert Investments; Adam Kanzer, Domini Social Investments; Jonas Kron, Trillium Asset Management; Rev. David Schilling, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility.

Selected signatories:

AFLCIO Office of Investment
Allianz Global Investors
Aviva Investors
Bank J. Safra Sarasin Ltd
BNP Paribas Investment Partners
Candriam Investors
Christian Super
Church Commissioners for England
ERAFP – French Public Service Additional Pension Scheme
F&C Investments
Fourth Swedish National Pension Fund
Local Government Super
Mercy Investment Services
MN Services
NEI Investments
North East Scotland Pension Fund
Responsible Investment Association
Strathclyde Pension Fund
The Church of Sweden
Triodos Investment Management
Walden Asset Management
Zevin Asset Management