- Human rights, inequality, net zero alignment, biodiversity are this year’s priority themes
- Companies identified for the pledge include Apple, Meta, Walmart, Teck Resources, Microsoft, Pfizer, Nutrien and from Canada banks
- 82% of companies were “responsive” or “very responsive” to engagement in 2021
TORONTO, March 16, 2022 /CNW/ – NEI Investments (“NEI”) today released its annual Focus List, a guide to the environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) topics that NEI has prioritized for engagement with companies this year. The Focus List identifies companies with which NEI intends to engage on the priority ESG issues of human rights, inequality, net zero and, new for 2022, biodiversity. It also includes a summary of NEI’s planned policy activities and provides an overview of the results of the previous year’s engagement.
The Focus List is the cornerstone of the active ownership component of NEI’s long-standing responsible investment program, which encompasses three main activities: corporate dialogue, proxy voting and shareholder proposals. Published annually since 2002, the Focus List gives asset managers, financial advisers, institutional and retail investors and other stakeholders the opportunity to review NEI’s progress in improving the value of investments. and build a more sustainable future.
“The net zero program has tremendous momentum right now and 2022 will see even more companies making net zero commitments,” said Jamie Bonham, director of corporate engagement at NEI Investments. “But skepticism is already setting in about the reality of these 2050 commitments, so companies are going to have to allay those fears by disclosing solid short-term goals and detailing credible strategies with hard capital behind them. When it comes to biodiversity, we anticipate that this will be the year that this critical issue begins to receive the attention it deserves, and we see it high on our agenda for the foreseeable future.
“Persistent divisions, growing inequalities and evolving human rights risks are issues that businesses and investors must address, especially now with Russia attack Ukraine,” noted Michele Gregoire, Director of ESG Services at NEI Investments. “In addition to the human rights subtopics outlined in our priority list, we are moving forward with previously announced plans to engage companies that operate or have other business relationships in Russia. It’s a way for us to align with international efforts to put economic pressure on the country to support efforts to end this war.”
NEI’s approach to active ownership incorporates internationally recognized principles and frameworks such as the Principles for Responsible Investment, the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, the OECD and the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.
Four themes for 2022
Human rights are the backbone of our society and underpin our perspectives on justice and equity, so it is no surprise that the subject remains a central theme of our engagements. With Russia invasion of Ukraine, we have reached a new level of urgency. Areas that will be central to many of our dialogues this year are human rights in the supply chain and digital rights. Companies targeted include Amazon, Meta and Walmart.
We have long considered the implications of systemic inequality on communities, the workforce, and the business landscape. We will continue to prioritize the issue in our dialogues, with a particular focus this year on the following four areas: human capital; diversity, equity and inclusion; fair compensation; and equitable access. The companies targeted are Johnson & Johnson, Microsoft and Pfizer.
Net zero alignment
Last year was a momentous year for the fight against climate change. We expect 2022 to be another year of significant change, which is why the energy transition and zero electricity ambitions will be at the heart of our engagement activities. Our two main areas of focus this year are net zero commitments and transition plans, and circularity. Companies targeted include Magna International, Canadian Natural Resources and from Canada banks.
As we head into 2022, the imperative to address and reverse biodiversity loss has only accelerated. We have elevated biodiversity to a major theme in our engagement program this year, intending to focus on two key areas: impact and dependence assessment, and deforestation. Companies targeted include Empire Company, Loblaw Companies and from Canada banks.
82% of companies reactive or highly responsible for dialogue in 2021
NEI actively engaged 108 companies in 2021. Active engagement is defined by instances that are not limited to written correspondence, where we are able to meet with a company as a lead investor, co-lead or participating investor.
“Last year we saw a noticeable increase in the number of companies proactively approaching us for advice on how to manage certain ESG issues, which is a very good sign of a growing culture. more open to outside perspectives,” Bonham said. “Not all companies recognize the benefits of this, but we’re seeing more and more of them doing it every year.”
2021 commitments in figures
- 131 companies involved (29% of equity assets under management at the end of the year)
- 108 companies actively involved
- 23 companies engaged by correspondence
- 19 different topics covered
- 927 company meetings voted
- 11,634 proxies voted
- 4,220 votes against management (36% of all proxy points voted)
- 380 votes against North American compensation plans (88% of all voted plans)
List of priorities (pdf)
About NEI Investments
NEI Investments is a Canadian asset manager specializing in responsible investing, with over 11 billion Canadian dollars under management. With over 30 years of experience as a leader in sustainable investing, NEI is committed to providing Canadian investors with a wide range of responsible investing solutions, advised by independent portfolio managers around the world. . The firm offers disciplined and active asset management, focusing on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors. NEI Investments also manages and operates a proprietary active ownership program, recognized as an industry leader by the United Nations Principles for Responsible Investment. NEI Investments is a wholly owned subsidiary of Aviso Wealth.
About Aviso Wealth
Aviso Wealth is a leading provider of wealth management services to the Canadian financial industry, helping hundreds of institutional and retail organizations gain a competitive advantage through a comprehensive offering of investment brokerage services and insurance supporting thousands of financial advisors across Canada. Aviso Wealth’s asset manager, NEI Investments, is a Canadian leader in responsible investing funds and portfolios, and its award-winning online brokerage, Qtrade Direct Investing™, empowers self-directed investors to build their wealth with confidence. trust. Aviso Correspondent Partners provides custody and brokerage services to portfolio managers, investment dealers, insurance and trust companies and introducing brokers.
With over $100 billion of assets under administration and management, Aviso Wealth is an ambitious organization supported by the collective strength of its owners: the central caisses populaires, Co-operators/CUMIS and Desjardins. For more information, visit aviso.ca.
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