Six Swiss pension funds set up collective engagement pool for international companies

Investors with CHF15bn in “soft power” initiative with Ethos

Ethos, the Swiss pension fund-owned governance body, has teamed up with six Swiss pension funds (listed below) with a combined CHF15bn (€13.8bn) in assets to launch an international corporate engagement programme called Ethos Engagement Pool International (EEP International).

It follows a domestic engagement programme that has run for 12 years and the group aims, via collective engagement, to raise awareness about corporate governance and environmental and social responsibility best practice. They argue it “reduces operational risks for companies and contributes to long term value creation”.

The existing programme on which the new initiative is modeled, the Ethos Engagement Pool (EEP) currently has 130 institutional members.

Under the new international programme, funds will, firstly, join collective initiatives launched by international investors from various countries.

Secondly, Ethos will lead a direct engagement in the name of pool members with selected large European companies. Collective action makes investors a “credible dialogue partner” for companies, Ethos says.

“I am convinced that dialogue and soft power are effective means for achieving significant advances in environmental and social responsibility,” said Fabrice Merle, CEO of CIEPP, the first pension fund to join EEP International.Ethos explained that it has participated in international collective investor initiatives for many years, such as that following the Rana Plaza textile factory disaster in Bangladesh in 2013.

“Dialogue and soft power are effective means for achieving significant advances”

Earlier this month Ethos published a paper – addressed at listed companies – summarizing investor expectations about climate change risk management, saying that less than half of SIX-listed firms publish their greenhouse gas emissions. It set out its five expectations of companies: 1) Integrate climate change into strategy 2) Measure carbon footprint 3) Adopt GHG emissions reduction targets 4) Audit the data independently 5) Communicate on the adopted strategy.

Founding members of EEP International:

• Caisse Inter-Entreprises de Prévoyance Professionnelle (CIEPP)
• Caisse de pension d’UNIA
CAP Prévoyance
• Prosperita Stiftung für die berufliche Vorsorge
• Abendrot Stiftung
• Pré