I am a longtime sustainability practitioner who has spent my entire career devoted to a more sustainable economy, including the last decade at KKR where I currently help lead our responsible investing efforts. When it comes to ESG management, transparency and reporting are among the most complicated but important topics, and an area where I spend a significant portion of my time and attention.
Responsible Investor recently published an article regarding KKR’s Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) assessment and our overall approach to sharing these results externally. However, the publication’s reporting neglected to mention key details about our relationship with the PRI and how we disclose our performance, as well as my personal view of the role the assessment tool should play for signatories seeking to improve their performance. Therefore, I wanted to take the opportunity to discuss our work with the PRI and clarify how we use and learn from our PRI assessments (where we have received an A+ and A rating in relevant modules, scoring well among our peers).
KKR has been a signatory of the UN-backed PRI since 2009, during which time we have played an active role, including my personal role as a current member of the PRI’s Reporting and Assessment Advisory Committee and a former member of the Private Equity Advisory Committee. We believe the PRI to be a powerful network and have devoted our time and resources to advancing its goals, which are similar to ours: being a responsible investor and a good partner to the companies in which we invest and the firms and individuals that invest with us.As it relates to the PRI’s annual assessments, KKR does not have a policy in place regarding disclosing or not disclosing our assessment scores, as the article suggests. Rather, in response to written requests, we offer to share the results of our assessments in conversations with our investment partners. We take this approach so we can go beyond using our scores as a marketing tool and instead leverage them as a point of dialogue with clients and prospects around our efforts in managing ESG issues. It is in this same spirit of communication and transparency that KKR publishes an annual ESG report that includes our policies, case studies, and responses to PRI’s DDQ guides.
As the article notes, PRI is currently undergoing a multi-year effort to update its reporting and assessment tool, specifically by working to develop this tool in a way that is effective for its many different stakeholders. The PRI held a panel at the recent PRI in Person to highlight the multiple perspectives it needs to take into account and invited me to participate because of my perspective and devotion to the topic of thoughtful reporting, but also my long-held belief that the tool is best used as a self-improvement mechanism, rather than an evaluation screen. As a longtime partner of the PRI, we are proud to have a voice at the table in this process and commend their efforts to drive a more responsible and sustainable investment industry.
Elizabeth Seeger is Director, Sustainable Investing at KKR.