Investors to push FTSE100 companies on mental health impacts of the Coronavirus

CCLA still looking for investor signatories to letter to London-listed firms

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UK charity fund manager CCLA will send a letter on Monday to the largest London-listed companies, encouraging them to take steps to help mitigate the mental health impacts of the Corona pandemic on employees. 

Investors representing close to £2trn in assets – including London-based investment manager Schroders –  are expected to throw their weight behind the letter to the FTSE100 firms, which include the likes of HSBC, BP and Rio Tinto.

Amy Browne, Stewardship Lead at CCLA, told RI that the letter will encourage companies to take practical steps like introducing training for managers to help them spot warning signs in workers, increasing flexibility in performance appraisals and signposting resources on mental health. 

Browne stressed the “unprecedented mental health consequences” that Corona-enforced measures like “obligatory remote working, social isolation and quarantine” pose to employees, as well as the impacts of bereavements and financial anxiety. 

"It's totally demonstrable that creating a positive environment for mental health in the workplace costs less than failing to do so" – Amy Browne, Stewardship Lead, CCLA

“We are really very mindful not to pile pressure on these companies who are already dealing with a lot”, she said, but added that CCLA sees the engagement as part of its role as “responsible stewards”. 

Mental health in the workplace is an issue CCLA has been focused on since early 2019. The London-based manager plans to scale up and broaden out the engagement work it has already done with the financial services and pharmaceutical sector in the summer.

The letter to the FTSE100 firms is described by CCLA’s Head of Ethical and Responsible Investment, James Corah as a “targeted short-term piece of work” off the back of that initiative.

“As people who think mental health is so important to the corporate workplace, we think it would be remiss for us not to do this right now”, he said.  

Pre-pandemic research suggests that poor mental health already costs UK employers between £33bn and £42bn each year.

“It's totally demonstrable that creating a positive environment for mental health in the workplace costs less than failing to do so”, Browne told RI. 

She added that CCLA will be “chasing for responses” to the letter from the FTSE100 companies “but in a gentle way”. 

“For many, this will be the start of a conversation which we then hope to take further in the longer-term engagement piece”.

Contact Amy Browne or James Corah if you are interested in supporting the letter or the CCLA’s wider work on the issue of workplace mental health.