During 2015, GES engaged on behalf of investor clients on an unprecedented scale. In our flagship programme for Business Conduct Engagement, GES identified and engaged with 118 cases that could be associated with violations of international norms and conventions. We had 160 meetings with companies on these cases, including 91 conference calls and 69 face-to-face meetings. In total, GES was in contact with companies 2366 times through emails, conference calls and meetings.
In the Stewardship and Risk programme, we also scaled up activities due to increasing client interest in proactively engaging on ESG risks and opportunities. Within the Emerging Market Engagement programme, GES conducted 82 onsite meetings in Nigeria, South Africa, Mexico, Brazil, India, Russia, Thailand, Malaysia, Hong Kong, and South Korea. The team met with extremely diverse companies ranging in industries and size from Samchuly Bicycle with 136 employees in South Korea to the 534,000 employees at Petrochina. The engagement trips even took us 3,000 meter underground in a South African gold mine.
Besides the travelling within the Emerging Market Engagement, GES conducted field trips to a hydropower project in Brazil, and an on-site visit to a Peruvian mine. As a part of the Palm Oil Engagement, we travelled to Malaysia and Singapore, engaging with companies in the palm oil sectoras well as with various non-corporate stakeholdersto discuss issues including high carbon stock and deforestation.
In the second half of 2015, GES launched the Carbon Risk Engagement programme, which focuses specifically on large-cap energy companies having a significant carbon footprint and intensity combined with a low performance on carbon risk management. In addition, the selected companies have been assessed by GES to be susceptible to engagement.
GES’ engagement on corporate governance issues led to over 20 meetings with companies around the world in a range of sectors, including oil and gas, banking and engineering. The dialogue was informed by our analysis of proxy voting issues and covered an array of topics, such as strategy, board leadership, executive pay and corruption. We have seen tangible progress in companies’ policies and practices over the course of these engagements.
Throughout the year, GES championed a selected number of responsible investment topics. We organised our second Engagement Day in London in May, where the variety of issues discussed included water, Burma/Myanmar and telecommunications and security. In addition, GES once again co-authored a report with Global Child Forum on children’s rights from the investor perspective, which was launched at the Global Child Forum’s annual event at the Royal Palace in Stockholm. We also held several webinars on topics like corporate taxation, climate change, and Burma/Myanmar.
Josiane Fanguinovény, Engagement Director at GES, commented:
“With over 100 cases and 2366 points of contact, GES’ work on business conduct engagement was comprehensive and effective in 2015. We conducted the largest number of engagements than any previous year and fostered a strong dialogue with a number of companies – all in order to achieve change for the benefit of our clients and their investments.
Given the current global economic and social outlook, we expect 2016 to bring further challenges. We will be strengthening our thematic engagements on hot topics, such as taxation, children’s rights in media and marketing, carbon risk and stewardship-related issues. We are aiming to meet with more companies globally to build on our engagement work.”
For further information, please contact:
Josiane Fanguinovény, Engagement Director