Daily ESG Briefing: New York pension funds pressure Amazon over diversity disclosure

The latest developments in sustainable finance

New York City Comptroller Scott Stringer has written to Jeff Bezos, the CEO of Amazon, calling on the firm to adopt a disclosure policy on race, ethnicity and gender for employees. Without such a policy, said Stringer – who was writing on behalf of three of New York’s pension funds – “investors, as well as employees and the public, are unable to monitor, assess and benchmark the company’s performance in hiring, retaining and promoting black employees, other employees of colour and women in the US”. 

The Geneva Center for Business, based at the University of Geneva, and NGO Finance and Human Rights are seeking responses to a survey assessing the role of human rights in the finance industry. The survey will allow the two organisations to establish current implementation of human rights in financial institutions and will be collated into a report for October 2020. 

A collaboration between Global Canopy and Natural Capital Finance Alliance founder, Andrew Mitchell, and Jersey Finance, the financial centre of Jersey – which some described as a tax haven –  is hoping to position the Channel Island as a global centre for sustainable finance

The head of Legal & General Investment Management has criticised the UK Government for sending mixed messages over climate change, because of its push towards high-speed rail project HS2 and the expansion of Heathrow airport. In a webinar on Monday, Nigel Wilson, head of the UK’s largest fund manager said: “The government has to become a collaborative partner. At the moment, the mandates on what they want to do, and what they want to spend their money on, are not always aligned with climate change at all [and] send all sorts of confusing messages.” A spokesperson for Wilson said the money would be better spent on smaller projects, for example, intra-city transport, electric vehicle infrastructure and housing retrofits.

Canadian corporate directors are legally obligated to address climate change risks and opportunities, according to a legal opinion piece by corporate governance expert, Carol Hansell. In Putting Climate Change Risk On The Boardroom Table, Hansell stressed directors must take a long-term approach and ensure that management develops strategies to address risks and opportunities. The legal opinion was prepared for the Canadian Climate Law Initiative, and follows a recent report, by the Chartered Professional Accountants of Canada and consulting firm Mantle314, which found relatively few publicly-listed companies are hitting climate-related financial disclosure standards.

Specialist fund manager Liontrust has purchased Architas Multi-Manager Limited and Architas Advisory Services Limited from AXA S.A. for a total consideration of up to £75m. Through acquiring the UK investment firm, Liontrust will have AuMA of £25bn; the newly-combined team will be headed by John Husselbee, with Sheldon Macdonald becoming Deputy Head.