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Boston Common Asset Management

PRI reporting framework 2019

You are in Strategy and Governance » Promoting responsible investment

Promoting responsible investment

SG 09. Collaborative organisations / initiatives

09.1. Select the collaborative organisation and/or initiatives of which your organisation is a member or in which it participated during the reporting year, and the role you played.

Select all that apply

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common has been a member of PRI since 2009 and has been an active participant in a number of PRI collaborative engagements as well as the Collaborative Platform.  At the end of 2014, Geeta Aiyer, founder and president of Boston Common was elected for a three year term to the PRI's advisory council. Two of Boston Common's Managing Directors - Steven Heim and Lauren Compere lead or co-lead committees on the PRI's collaborative engagement platform.  Constantina Bichta joined the Advisory Committee for Water Risk in the Agricultural Sector.  We believe PRI is the most significant platform for coordinated global shareowner engagement and the promotion of ESG integration.  Steven and Lauren sit on PRI Steering committees focused on oil and gas sector engagement, labor standards in the agricultural supply chain and a new engagement on tax transparency. We are also participants in collaborative engagements on indigenous peoples' rights, human rights in the extractive sector, water disclosure in the agricultural sector, corporate climate lobbying and sustainable stock exchanges (SSE).

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common became a full member of the ACGA in 2015 which works to improve corporate transparency and accountability in Asia and participates in bi-monthly investor calls on ACGA activities. In November 2016, Lauren Compere Director of Shareowner Engagement spoke at ACGA’s 2016 Annual Conference, on the Governance of Sustainability. Lauren shared global investor expectations on how Asian companies can be more strategic in managing sustainability issues. In 2017 Boston Common joined the Japan Working Group of ACGA and organized an investor briefing on Japan's Energy Policy and potential investor engagement strategies.  As part of ACGA's annual conference in Beijing in 2018, Liz Su, Boston Common's lead portfolio manager for emerging markets was able to meet with companies, regulator is and local institutional investors. Liz Su also joined the China Working Group in 2018.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common is a full investor member of CDP and the related group Carbon Action.  We have engaged companies regarding their CDP reports and setting science-based GHG reduction targets. In 2018 we educated portfolio holdings like SQM and Beijing Water who were unfamiliar with it to explore using the CDPs tools for GHG emissions and water. Last year, our President was also a speaker at the CDP Annual Dinner and awards ceremony

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common is a signatory to CDP Forests. We were also active participant in its predecessor organization, the UK-based Forest Disclosure Project.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We have worked with CDP Water to identify any of our portfolio holdings which have not responded to their survey. During 2018 we continued engagements with a number of portfolio companies in our portfolios which had either not responded or declined to respond to the CDP water survey. Our goal is to encourage them to disclose relevant information in a timely fashion to investors.  This includes portfolio holdings in Asia and emerging markets.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We continue to engage with the CFA Society in Boston which has hosted a series of Sustainable Investing seminars.  We were also pleased to see and distribute the CFA's research purblication 'Mainstreaming Sustainable Investing' which was published in the Fall of 2018.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common is a contributing signatory to the investor statement on transparency in the Extractives sector. In 2017 we coordinated an investor support for a statement to support continued implementation of  Dodd-Frank Section 1502 on Conflict minerals which faced repeal under the current Presidential administration and continues be in jeopardy in 2018.Though the SEC (then) Chairman Michael Piwowar indicated that companies would face no enforcement action for failing to comply with the rule, companies in response to pressure from groups like the Investor Alliance on Human Rights have continued to publish their Conflict Mineral reports.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

As part of the PRI Corporate Climate Lobbying initiative, we supported coordinated work between the regional groups in the lead up to COP21. Boston Common was a lead investor under the US investor group.  We also joined the Climate Action 100+ in December 2017 and are engaging European companies under IIGCC that are a focus under this campaign.  We are also a supporting investor for the Climate Action 100+ Japan Working Group.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Lauren Compere Director of Shareowner Engagement has been a member of the Governing Board of the Interfaith Center of Corporate Responsibility (ICCR) since  2010.  In 2016 Boston Common continued its lead investor role in the ICCR-led initiative to address systemic problems in the Bangladesh apparel supply chain (on-going since 2014). Boston Common is on the ICCR Working Group leadership teams for:  Climate Change, Human Trafficking, Food, and Global Health.  We also sit on the Steering Committee of the Investor Alliance for Human Rights (IAHR) a project of ICCR.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We have been members of ICGN since 2012 and have attended annual forums in Brazil, Japan and London.  Lauren Compere sits on the Business Ethics & Systemic Risk Committee of ICGN (joined December 2013) and co-authored a Viewpoint paper on Corporate Lobbying Practices and the US elections published in October 2016. Lauren previously co-authored a Viewpoint on the Governance of Human Rights published in 2015.  Boston Common participates in quarterly conference calls and one annual in-person meeting as a member of the Business Ethics & Systemic Risk Committee.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common is an active member of the Investor Network on Climate Risk and the Ceres Coalition.  We are active in the strategy and program development work by INCR related to climate change and sustainability.  We provided Ceres with a case study on a shareholder engagement model that was published in an investor guide on engagement in March 2015. Ceres staff participated in bi-annual investor briefings that Boston Common organized with oil & gas companies on environmental risk management related to hydraulic fracturing.  Boston Common was one of the investors featured in a Ceres report that provided case studies on how investors approach water risk in their portfolios (Published in March 2015). Ceres also included a case study on PNC dialogue on climate risk in " Shareholders Spur Action on Climate Change: Company Commitments from the 2014 & 2015 Proxy Seasons".  We are also regular speakers at the Ceres conference on a variety of issues from our work with banks and climate change to supply chain oversight (human rights).  Ceres has also supported our multi-year program engaging the global banking sector on climate change.

          USSIF/RIA (Canada)
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common has been a member of USSIF since 2003.  We have supported the organization through our participation in various Steering Committees including SIRAN (Sustainable Investment Research Analyst Network), the Indigenous Peoples Working Group, their Diversity Task Force and the International Working Group. In 2016 the steering committees ceased operations and Boston Common co-founded an independent group to continue the advocacy work of the Indigenous Peoples Working Group of USSIF (renamed the Investors and Indigenous Peoples Working Group). In May 2017 Lauren Compere of Boston Common participated in a panel at the annual USSIF conference on Access to Medicines as a Material Issue for Investors in Pharmaceutical Companies.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

We formally collaborated with SHARE on our Banking on a Low Carbon Future engagement with 60 global banks in 2017.  They were our regional partner in Canada engaging 6 Canadian banks and provided outreach and engagement support for this project which will continue in 2018.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Members of Boston Common's ESG team sat on several working groups under the UNEP-FI WRI GHG Protocols project in 2014 and 2015. This was re-named the Portfolio Carbon Initiative. Boston Common has provided substantive feedback into several draft papers on climate performance metrics for banks and has organized other investors to provide coordinated feedback (call November 23, 2015). Lauren Compere continues to sit on a Technical Working Group looking at climate performance metrics for banks.

We have also participated in a variety of consultations related to the UNEP FI project to support a Sustainable Financial System with one-on-one interviews.

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting period (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common staff served as Expert Advisors for the UN Global Compact's  business reference guide on the UN Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples.  The UN Global Compact published the new guide in December 2013.  Boston Common has also participated in PRI Clearinghouse initiatives related to UN Global Compact and our President also spoke at the UN Global Compact Summit in 2014.  Geeta Aiyer was one of 10 chief executives profiled in the 2017 United Nations Global Compact Progress Report:  Business Solutions to Sustainable Development.

          Certified B Corporation
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

In 2016 Boston Common became a Certified B Corporation®. B Corporations are leaders of the global movement of people using business as a force for good. In 2017 Boston Common became an active participant in the 'Bhive' the local network for B Corporations in Boston.  We purchased client gifts from another BCorp and also purchase carbon offsets (A tree farm in Peru) from a certified BCorp.

          Investor Environmental Health Network
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

The Investor Environmental Health Network is a collaborative partnership of investment managers, advised by nongovernmental organizations, concerned about the financial and public health risks associated with corporate toxic chemicals policies. Boston Common helped co-found the IEHN in 2005 and is active in shaping and implementing its engagement initiatives.  The most recent initiatives include a focus on hydraulic fracturing including the release of the fourth "Disclosing the Facts" Scorecard (December  2017 which focused methane. Boston Common also works jointly with IEHN on the Chemical Footprint Project and Constantina Bichta serves on the Steering Committee.

          Women's Empowerment Principles/ 30% Coalition
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

In 2017 Lisa Hayles joined the board of the 30% Coalition, a national nonprofit dedicated to increasing the gender and racial diversity of boards at publicly listed companies. Previously, we had been a member of their insitutional investor committee.

 

          Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI).
        

Your organisation’s role in the initiative during the reporting year (see definitions)

Provide a brief commentary on the level of your organisation’s involvement in the initiative. [Optional]

Boston Common supports the Access to Nutrition Index (ATNI) at both the governance and collaborative engagement level.  Since 2014 Lauren Compere, Director of Shareowner Engagement has served as a Supervisory Board member and currently Chair's its Audit Committee.  In addition, she has helped to coordinate a multi-year collaborative engagement with the publicly listed companies under the 2016 Global Index which in 2017 involved 21 out of the 50 institutional investors supporting ATNI. Lauren worked co-Chair Katie Gordon to send letters 19 global food and beverage companies ahead of the 2018 Index data collection process (Summer 2017) to encourage robust participation.  Lauren also organized an investor workshop in Mumbai in November of 2017 alongside the ACGA conference to share the findings of the 2016 India Spotlight Index and to actively engage some of the Indian companies on the findings (PepsiCo and Unilever HUL).

 


SG 09.2. Assets managed by PRI signatories (Not Applicable)


SG 10. Promoting RI independently

10.1. Indicate if your organisation promotes responsible investment, independently of collaborative initiatives.

10.2. Indicate the actions your organisation has taken to promote responsible investment independently of collaborative initiatives. Provide a description of your role in contributing to the objectives of the selected action and the typical frequency of your participation/contribution.

Description

          Boston Common underwent an audit in 2018 by the Real Impact Tracker initiative,  a third party certification program aimed as assessing the positive impact of ESG funds and investment managers. We were also recognized by the Real Leaders 100 awards which created a ranking of the Top 100 Impact Companies in the United States.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          As a recognized leader in responsible investment practice, Boston Common staff are frequently invited to speak at conferences around the world on various aspects of RI research, implementation, integration and shareholder engagement.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Boston Common published our 4th report on the Finance Sector and Climate Change, Published our second Impact report and also published a briefing on ESG in Asia (Based on a trip that included a visit to the Asian Corporate Governance Association conference).
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We work with a wide variety of intermediaries including investment consultants, family offices and financial adviser networks.  We are proud to be signatories and long-standing members of the PRI and promote its mission and goals with our clients and their advisers whenever we can.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We responded to a number of NGO and public policy initiatives in the last year.  Examples include: the Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) doing a gap analysis examining the metrics we developed for our Eco-efficiency engagement initiative versus their own metrics.  They were particularly interested in our cross-sector metrics  and how they could be used within industry specific disclosure standards.  CERES also adapted Boston Common's Eco-efficiency framework in its new energy efficiency program to benchmark energy efficiency management practices by REITs and automotive industry companies. We participated in a discussion on the IFC's draft operating principles for Impact Investment Managers and a follow-up to our letter to the OECD on human rights due diligence by banks.
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          We regularly publish articles on responsible investment topics in the media and were a guest contributor to Huffington Post which we also re-publish on our website.  Key topics covered in 2017 included Banks and Climate Change, Access to Medicines, Investor Engagement in Emerging Markets and Water Stewardship.  http://news.bostoncommonasset.com/type/perspective/
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Boston Common staff serve on the following PRI advisory committees:
Water Working Group Advisory Committee 
Labor Standards in the Agricultural Supply Chain
Tax Transparency Advisory Committee 
Methane Working Group
        

Frequency of contribution

Description

          Boston Common staff serve as advisers and board members for local, national and global responsible investment organizations including: the Asian Corporate Governance Association (ACGA), the Interfaith Center for Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), The Access to Nutrition Foundation, the Thirty Percent Coalition,  The Investor and Indigenous Peoples Working Group
        

Frequency of contribution

10.3. Describe any additional actions and initiatives that your organisation has taken part in during the reporting year to promote responsible investment [Optional]

As part of Boston Common's preparation for the audit we underwent conducted by the Real Impact Tracker initiative,  we identified the leadership roles we played in all the external sustainably-focused organizations we work with.

We identified leadership or significant advisory responsibilities with:

14 Environmental organizations:  e.g.  the 2 Degrees Lending Network, Climate Action 100+ and the Business Benchmark on Animal Welfare (BBFAWFAIRR)

15 Social Organizations:  Investor Alliance on Human Rights, UN Guiding Principles for Business and Human Rights Reporting Framework , Bangladesh Accord of Fire and Building Safety Investor Coalition

10 Governance Organizations:  Thirty Percent Coalition, Asian Corporate Governance Association, Bloomberg ESG Advisory committee

 


SG 11. Dialogue with public policy makers or standard setters

11.1. Indicate if your organisation - individually or in collaboration with others - conducted dialogue with public policy makers or regulators in support of responsible investment in the reporting year.

If yes

11.2. Select the methods you have used.

11.3. Where you have made written submissions (individually or collaboratively) to governments and regulatory authorities, indicate if these are publicly available.

11.4. Provide a brief description of the main topics your organisation has engaged with public policy-makers or regulators on.


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