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Joseph Rowntree Charitable Trust

PRI reporting framework 2019

You are in Strategy and Governance » Objectives and strategies

Objectives and strategies

SG 05. RI goals and objectives

05.1. Indicate if and how frequently your organisation sets and reviews objectives for its responsible investment activities.

05.2. Additional information. [Optional]

SG 06. Main goals/objectives this year

06.1. List the main responsible investment objectives that your organisation set for the reporting year.

Responsible investment processes

Key performance indicator

          Our learning is shared with other responsible investors.

Progress achieved

1. We presented to the 2018 Church Investors Group (CIG) conference on power and accountability in the technology sector and the role of charities and churches in holding such investee companies to account, either directly or through fund managers. In particular, we encouraged CIG members to ensure:  

  • that the technological companies in which they invest have a clearly identifiable, transparent and reported ethical value base which transcends the company from board level to the shop floor
  • that the boards of these companies are sufficiently diverse to include both value carriers and individuals with current technological expertise such that the board is equipped to deal with all the challenges it faces
  • that these companies adopt accepted guiding principles and are transparent about their lobbying
  • both US and Chinese technology companies push for global ethical standards
  • more industry wide action is taken such as the introduction of an industry board of ethics.

The CIG has adopted this theme as part of its new 'Stranded Humans' strategy going forward.

We also had an article on this subject published in Trust and Foundation News in 2018.

2. We had an article published in Charity Finance in 2018 on our divestment journey.


Key performance indicator

          Knowledge of our ESG activities is shared with trustees and staff.

Progress achieved

Investment Committee reports back on its activities to the full board at least twice a year. In addition regular report backs are made to the staff group allowing the cross fertilisation of ideas between our investment staff and our grants staff. This is particularly important since much of our direct ESG work is informed by our grant-making.

Key performance indicator

          Improvement on how we hold our fund managers to account on their voting.

Progress achieved

During the year we started a programme of engagement with our fund managers to determine how best they can report their voting information to us in a manageable but meaningful way. This work continues into 2019.

Key performance indicator

          Our concerns about non-mainstream ESG matters are shared with our fund managers and others.

Progress achieved

During 2018 we  convened a roundtable of all our fund managers to discuss power and accountability in the technology sector, and our obligations as investors to ensure that the issues arising from it are properly incorporated in the ESG management process. Following on from this we produced a document outlining our expectations of our fund managers regarding power and accountability in the technology sector. We have shared this with them and have posted it on our website. We will continue to hold both our current and future fund managers to account against these expectations.

Notably within the expectations document we have encouraged our fund managers to work with other fund managers to share their expertise and present a united front when engaging with huge, powerful and sometimes government controlled (especially in China) technology companies.

Financial performance of investments

Key performance indicator

          Outperformance of our composite MSCI World and FTSE ASI benchmark by investing through sustainable funds.

Progress achieved

We last independently verified the performance of our portfolio as at 31 July 2018, At that point we had outperformed our composite benchmark by 2.7% p.a. over the first five years of our new sustainable investment strategy.

ESG characteristics of investments

Key performance indicator

          Exclusion of companies from our investments which are materially involved in armaments, gambling, tobacco, new generation nuclear power production and fossil fuel extraction.

Progress achieved

Usually we are fully divested from companies which are materially involved in armaments, gambling, tobacco, new generation nuclear power production and fossil fuel extraction. However, in June 2018 Informa merged with UBM to become B2B Information Services Group and, as a result, acquired a small number of arms exhibitions. Any involvement in armaments is unacceptable to us and we have ben engaging with our one fund manager who has a holding in the company to seek a resolution to this issue. 

Key performance indicator

          Comparison of the carbon footprint of our portfolio year on year to identify how we are progressing in terms of reducing our carbon impact.

Progress achieved

We have continued to monitor and report on the carbon footprint of our fund managers through our Montreal Carbon Pledge. We were delighted that, in 2018, for the first time, all our fund managers were able to report on their carbon footprint. This will enhance our ability to monitor their progress in reducing the carbon impact of our portfolio going forward. 

Other activities

Key performance indicator

          Participation in responsible investment initiatives.

Progress achieved

In 2018 we signed up to the following corporate letter writing initiatives:

  • Climate Action 100+ (via ShareAction)
  • Investor Decarbonisation Initiative (via ShareAction)
  • Letter to a bank challenging their financing of the coal sector (via ShareAction)
  • Plastic Pellet loss in the Supply Chain (via Stewart Investors and PRI)
  • Building Sustainable Protein Supply Chains (via FAIRR)
  • Living Wage  (via ShareAction).

We also signed up to the following statements:

  • Lofoten Declaration
  • Investor Statement of the Cerrado (via FAIRR)
  • Global Investor Statement to Governments on Climate Change (via CDP, IIGCC and PRI)
  • Statement to the G20 Leaders' Summit encouraging the end of fossil fuel subsidies (via ODI and IIGCC)
  • Investor Statement on Plastics (via As You Sow)
  • Investor Statement on Modern Slavery (via Know the Chain and CIG).

Key performance indicator

          Stimulating interest amongst other foundations in responsible investment.

Progress achieved

Through our networks we were able to bring other investors in board to sign up to the Stewart Investor/PRI Plastic Pellet loss in the Supply Chain Initiative.

06.2. Additional information.