New ‘UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework’ is first comprehensive
guidance for companies to report on human rights in line with UN Guiding Principles
(London and Boston) – A group of over 60 investors from Europe, North America and Australia, with $3.9 trillion of assets under management, have today urged leading companies to use new guidance to help them “know and show” their management of human rights risks. In a joint statement the investors backed the new ‘UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework’, published this week, and said they aim to incentivise better corporate governance, management and reporting of human rights risks.
The investors signing today’s statement include some of the world’s largest and most influential investors including: Boston Common Asset Management, APG Asset Management, Aviva Investors, BNP Paribas Investment Partners, Church of Sweden and Wespath. A full list of investor signatories can be found below.
The $4tn investor coalition led by Boston Common argues that those companies that do not proactively assess and manage human rights issues face potential legal, reputational and other financial risks; while those who meet the ‘corporate responsibility to respect human rights’ gain competitive advantage. The new framework is a tool that enables companies to assess, manage and disclose their human rights performance in line with the global standard ‘UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights’. The new framework has already been adopted by companies including Unilever – the first adopter – plus Ericsson, H&M, Nestlé and Newmont.
- Lauren Compere, Managing Director at Boston Common Asset Management said, “Ultimately, investors want to protect value by knowing human rights risks are being monitored and managed by the companies they invest in. This is a groundbreaking new tool as the UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework provides smart and comprehensive guidance that means investors can more effectively identify and understand human rights risks in their portfolio. We hope it will encourage more investors to engage with companies on human rights as investors can now say to their investee companies – ‘please use this guidance as a straightforward way to start improving your controls and disclosure on human rights’.”
- Caroline Shift, President of Shift said, “The framework isn’t just for the leaders, but for all companies, regardless of size or current human rights performance. It is designed to help companies improve in this area over time. Robust reporting can drive better internal management of human rights-related issues, which in turn can have a huge positive impact in the lives of workers and communities.”
The new Framework is designed so that companies focus their reporting on those human rights risks that are most salient to their business activities. It has been developed through the Reporting and Assurance Frameworks Initiative (RAFI) in an open, global and consultative process led by Shift, the leading centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles, and international accountancy firm Mazars.
- Steve Waygood, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Aviva Investors said, “There is no question that human rights issues are frequently material to the financial performance of many companies. Long-term investors want to be able to benchmark corporate performance in this area, however this is not at all easy to do. This Reporting Framework is a very welcome step in absolutely the right direction. It provides companies with helpful clarification and guidance. This is invaluable given the recent growth in reporting requirements on human rights. For example, in October 2014, the EU Directive on the disclosure of non-financial information was finalised. This requires around 6,000 companies to disclose information on areas such as human rights performance by 2017.”
Read the full investor statement
NOTES TO EDITOR
For more information contact:
Available on request are interviews with:
- Lauren Compere, Managing Director, Boston Common Asset Management
- Julie Schindall, Senior Advisor, Shift
The full investor statement can be found here. The investor coalition has been coordinated by Boston Common Asset Management and the names of the lead investor signatories are below. Additional investors are also listed in the investor statement. Additional investors are expected to sign the statement of support in the future.
- Boston Common Asset Management
- F & C Investments
- APG Asset Management
- Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
- Aviva Investors
- Calvert Investments
- Church of Sweden
- BNP Paribas Investment Partners
- MN Services
- Alliance Trust
- Rockefeller Sustainability and Impact Investing Group
- Hermes Equity Ownership Services
- Domini Social Investments LLC
- NEI Investments
UN Guiding Principles Reporting Framework
For more information on the Reporting Framework, visit www.UNGPreporting.org.
The Reporting Framework project is supported by the United Nations Working Group on Business and Human Rights and overseen by an Eminent Persons Group chaired by Professor John Ruggie, author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. The project is facilitated by Shift, the leading centre of expertise on the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, and international accountancy firm Mazars, in liaison with the Human Rights Resource Centre for ASEAN.
About Boston Common Asset Management
Boston Common Asset Management is an experienced investment manager and a leader in global sustainability initiatives. It specializes in long-only, global equity and balanced strategies for U.S. investors. The firm’s investment process combines financial analysis with a proprietary Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) framework. Boston Common’s overall goal is to preserve and build capital and to add value through targeted company and industry engagement efforts. On behalf of its shareholders, Boston Common urges portfolio companies to improve transparency, accountability, and manage for the long term. Since its inception in 2003, Boston Common has built a strong investment record and has meaningfully improved corporate practices in the U.S. and abroad.
The information in this document should not be considered an offer or a recommendation to buy or sell any security, is not designed to be investment advice and should not be relied upon to make investment decisions. We cannot and do not comment on the suitability or profitability of any particular investment. Past performance does not guarantee future results. All investments involve risk, including the risk of losing principal.*