The Church Investors Group (CIG) has said it supports investor engagement in order to improve practices and operations within companies. The comments follow Ownership Day, which encourages investors to be more ‘active owners’ and use shareholder power.
CIG is a membership organisation for 49 institutional church investors, predominantly based within the UK and Ireland, with assets under management totalling £13 billion.
Bill Seddon, chair of CIG, said, “Church investors have traditionally been known for refusing to invest in business sectors that contradict the teachings of the church.
“However, whilst ethical exclusions remain the core of our members’ work it is part of our collective ‘witness’ to encourage better business practices in the companies in which we invest. Engagement has, therefore, been a major plank of how we see our responsibilities as owners for many years.”
Engagement allows investors to use their shareholder rights to improve a company’s sustainability. Last week, ExxonMobil shareholders celebrated a victory after the company decided it would report on the financial risk posed by climate change after a resolution was filed.
CIG recently published a guide – Being Good Stewards: Church investors and Corporate Engagement – which looks at what church investors, and other investors that want to ensure they are responsible stewards, should consider and the impact they can have.
The CIG has been engaging on the ‘final six’ FTSE 100 companies that do not disclose their greenhouse gas emissions to do so. In January, there was found to be an “exponential increase” in the number of investors asking companies to improve their climate performance, suggesting that emissions is an issue that is rising up the agenda.
Helen Wildsmith, CIG steering group member, commented, “As some of the largest companies in the UK we strongly encourage Barratt Developments, Capita, Hargreaves Lansdown, ITV, Melrose and Sports Direct, to take the first step and respond to the Carbon Disclosure Project in 2014.”
The group added that ownership activities will form a major part of the CIG Conference, set to take place next week, where delegates will meet in London to discuss future engagement collaboration.