A group of three pension funds and 100 individual shareholders have co-filed a shareholder resolution in an effort to improve employee rights at National Express. The resolution is part of a growing trend of rising investor inertest in human capital issues.
The shareholders are calling for the multinational transport corporation to improve oversight and increase transparency concerning the company’s human capital management policies and practices. The concerns are focused on the risks, sustainability and growth of operations in the company’s most profitable business – North American school bus services.
The proposal calls for the board to expand the role and responsibilities of its safety and environment committee to provide quality oversight and an enforceable workplace human rights policy. The Local Authority Pension Fund Forum (LAPFF) members that are co-sponsoring the resolution are Greater Manchester, LB of Islington and Nottinghamshire county council. Collectively, they hold 3m shares in National Express.
It is intended that the shareholder proposal will be put before the company’s annual general meeting on May 15.
Councillor Kieran Quinn, chairman of the Greater Manchester Pension Fund, said, “LAPFF member are long-term investors, and believe that effective management of human capital is crucial to delivering sustainable returns.
“Employees who feel their rights are respected, and are offered a good deal by their employer, are more likely to stick by the company and do a good job. We’re not convinced that National Express is getting this right currently, and we are filing this resolution so shareholders can give the board a clear mandate to address these risks to the value of the company and its sustainability.”
The news comes as the second annual Ownership Day takes place. Co-ordinated by the UK Sustainable Investment and Finance Association (UKSIF), it aims to raise awareness of the benefits of active ownership strategies in investment management.
Engaging with companies is one of the ways responsible investors can bring about change and improve the sustainability of the companies they invest in.
In a recent interview in Blue & Green Tomorrow’s Guide to Sustainable Investment 2014, Fiona Reynolds, managing director of the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), described engagement as a “key” part of the responsible investment process.
She said, “As a starting point trying to make change is the best way to go and take your responsibility as an owner seriously. But there also needs to be consequences, if you’ve engaged for a long time and seen no change then divestment may be what you decide to do.”