Daily ESG Briefing: HSBC and Lloyd’s of London make diversity promises

The latest developments in sustainable finance

Lloyd’s of London and HSBC have both pledged to increase board diversity. HSBC has said it will double the number of black directors within the bank in the next five years. Chief Executive Noel Quinn has admitted a failure to collect ethnicity data has created mistrust among black HSBC staff and says the move is part of the bank’s “urgent response” to the Black Lives Matter movement. Lloyd’s of London, which has been accused in recent years of having a ‘macho’ culture, including daytime drinking and sexual harassment, has set a target for women to make up at least 20% of boards and executive committees at member firms by the end of 2023. The figure currently stands at 15%. 

The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is launching a Business Leadership Forum on the circular economy and waste reporting. The non-profit’s new scheme will bring together business executives for interactive sessions over the next 12 months. Deadline for registration is August 14 2020 and is accessible here.

Brazil’s government has formalised the creation of a REDD+ scheme in the country, to help tackle deforestation. REDD is a voluntary offset market, established by the UN in 2005. It stands for ‘Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and forest Degradation’. The ‘+’ was added afterwards, to cover “the role of conservation, sustainable management of forests and enhancement of forest carbon stocks in developing countries”. In 2019, Brazil lost the most primary forest and during the Covid-19 pandemic, deforestation has continued to accelerate. 

The American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations,  the largest federation of US unions, has published a new Executive Paywatch report, focusing on the 20 companies that furloughed workers in 2020 with pay ratio disparities higher than 1,000-to-1. The full report can be accessed here.

The European Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action has published new guidance for applicants to its Innovation Fund, outlining how to calculating GHG emissions avoidance in energy-intensive industries. 

South Korea has proposed a ban on overseas coal financing. The move would end the country’s controversial public support for coal-fired power projects beyond its borders and would stop financial institutions from using taxpayers’ money to finance coal projects. South Korea is the world’s seventh-largest greenhouse gas emitter.