Investor coalition building global engagement programme on mental health

News comes as CCLA-led group puts UK's largest listed companies on notice.

A $7 trillion coalition of asset owners, institutional investors and stewardship service providers is set to launch a global engagement programme regarding corporate action on mental health, CCLA’s stewardship lead Amy Browne has told Responsible Investor.

Brown was speaking to RI as the coalition – convened by CCLA – wrote to the 100 largest listed companies in the UK, calling on them to take immediate and concerted steps to develop and implement effective management systems and processes on workplace mental health.

The targeted firms were initially assessed in May by CCLA for its Corporate Mental Health Benchmark, which aims to provide a tool for investors to understand and compare corporate practice on mental health.

Recipients include household names such as Unilever, Tesco, Coca-Cola, AstraZeneca and Shell. The financial sector is represented by top-tier firms such as Aviva, Barclays, Legal & General Group, Lloyds Banking Group and Standard Chartered.

Amongst the 29 signatories of the letters are Brunel Pensions Partnership, Nomura Asset Management, Federated Hermes Limited and Railpen. All were founding signatories of CCLA’s Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health, which was published following the launch of the benchmark.

Echoing the expectations set out in the statement, the letters urge companies to – among other things – publish a commitment to workplace mental health in a policy statement (or equivalent), together with a description of the scope of this commitment and of the governance and management processes in place to ensure the policy is effectively implemented and monitored.

Browne said: “Creating a workplace that does no harm to the mental or physical health of workers is not only a moral necessity but also a financial imperative. According to Deloitte, in 2021 employers saw an average return of £5.30 for every £1 invested in mental health interventions. In creating a positive environment for workplace mental health, companies will boost their ability to retain skilled employees, increase their productivity and reduce their financial outgoings.”

On next steps, a spokesperson for the initiative told RI that CCLA is in the process of building out a formal engagement programme with the Global Investor Statement signatories.

Brown explained: “We’ll start to organise into formal engagement working groups in Q4, covering global [due to be launched in October] and UK benchmarks.”

A Shell spokesperson told RI: “We welcome the launch of the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark. The health and well-being of our staff is extremely important to us and we will use the report’s findings to further strengthen our focus on good mental health and providing access to high quality care and support.”