Church Commissioners for England are stepping up their action against companies which don’t meet expectations on human rights.
The Commissioners, who support the work and mission of the Church of England, manage a £10.1 billion investment portfolio. They currently hold investments in a range of assets, including property and equities and say they are committed to "responsible investment taking account of environmental, social and governance issues".
They’ve now announced they will vote against investing in companies which fail to meet human rights standards to ensure they invest only in organisations with the highest record in that area.
It means that from 2023, the Commissioners will vote against the re-election of any directors in companies that fail to meet the expectations. This includes directors with named responsibility for human rights or board chairs who may be up for re-election next year.
The Church Commissioners say they will also work with data providers and advisers in order to better assess companies to improve transparency.
Dan Neale, who is social themes lead for responsible investment at Church Commissioners for England, said:
“We expect companies in which we invest to be actively committed to prevent, mitigate and account for human rights risks and impacts in all their activities. This includes managing issues like discrimination, modern slavery, indigenous people’s rights and community impacts.”
“We will use our vote with discretion when we think it’s appropriate to signal our disapproval to the management of a company that do not appear to meet our expectations of responsible business conduct with regards to respect for human rights. Respect for human rights underpins the ‘S’ in ESG, and, particularly today – but not only on Human Rights Day – we call on all companies to manage their social risks and impacts, to improve both outcomes for people and long-term enterprise value.”
The Church of England National Investing Bodies’ human rights policy can be found here.