Investor heavyweights, including Norges Bank Investment Management (NBIM), Schroders and JPMorgan AM, are among lead engagers for the Principles for Responsible Investment’s (PRI) human rights initiative, which officially launches today.
The Advance initiative, which was set up by the PRI last December, aims to co-ordinate investor action in pushing for greater respect for human rights among businesses while also enhancing “transparency for all stakeholders” on the issue.
According to the PRI, the initiative currently boasts more than 220 investors – collectively representing $30 trillion in assets under management – of which 120 will take active roles leading or supporting engagements.
In May, the investor network named its first 40 target companies, selected from the metals and mining and renewables sectors.
The publication of the list of investors, timed to coincide with PRI’s big conference in Barcelona, marks the official launch of the initiative.
It has been revealed that Schroders will engage miner Anglo American, along with Morgan Stanley Investment Management; NBIM and Old Mutual team up on gold miner Goldfields; EOS at Federated Hermes and JPMorgan Asset Management take steel giant POSCO; and Boston Common Asset Management and Storebrand will engage wind giant Ørsted.
A spokesperson for the PRI told Responsible Investor: “Investors applied to the position of lead or collaborating investor on a company-by-company basis, and in doing so, acknowledged they agree to their name being announced as the lead or collaborator for each company they will engage with.”
Alongside engagement, the investors have agreed to develop their own human rights policy and human rights due diligence process, to be ready within one year of joining the initiative.
When RI asked what happens if an investor does not meet these requirements, the spokesperson said that the PRI understands that “in some cases” the process might take more than a year to fully implement at group level.
The spokesperson added that the PRI will also “support signatories through this process, which of course will be new to many”.
They added that if after 12 months an investor isn’t meeting the requirements, the network will have a conversation with them about their progress “and ultimately reserves the right to ask them to resign from the initiative”.
The PRI is also looking to coordinate with existing investor initiatives whose objectives align with those of Advance, in a bid “to avoid duplication of efforts and ensure alignment in the expectations being put forth to companies”.
An example of this is the collaboration agreement between the PRI and the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, which will see the duo coordinate activities around corporate stewardship and engagement.
Today’s announcement comes as the PRI prepares to send a survey to signatories to kick off the second phase of its consultation on core issues, such as “the future of responsible investment”, the PRI’s “vision, mission and purpose”, and the value it provides to signatories.
When RI spoke to signatories and relevant stakeholders on the future of the PRI, many highlighted the importance of its involvement as secretariat and organiser in engagements – Advance in particular was flagged as an initiative of considerable interest.
In related news, the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital has launched a new long-term engagement plan that will advance investor stewardship on the recognition of labour rights by companies.
To mark this, the network – which brings together labour activists and asset owner board members from around the world – published a report which provides guidelines for investors on how to embed labour rights into investment policies and implement investment stewardship practices that uphold the fundamental rights of freedom of association and collective bargaining.