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The international business of Federated Hermes (formerly Hermes Investment Management)

PRI reporting framework 2020

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Outputs and outcomes

LEA 09. Number of companies engaged with, intensity of engagement and effort

Indicate the proportion of companies in your listed equities portfolio with which your organisation engaged during the reporting year.
We did not complete any engagements in the reporting year.

Number of companies engaged

(avoid double counting, see explanatory notes)

Proportion of companies engaged with, out of total listed equities portfolio

Individual / Internal staff engagements

235
32.5

Collaborative engagements

235
32.5

09.2. Indicate the breakdown of engagements conducted within the reporting year by the number of interactions (including interactions made on your behalf).

No. of interactions with a company
% of engagements
One interaction
2 to 3 interactions
More than 3 interactions
Total
100%

09.3. Indicate the percentage of your collaborative engagements in which you were the leading organisation during the reporting year.

Type of engagement

% leading role
  Collaborative engagements

09.5. Additional information. [Optional]

Our company, public policy and best practice engagement programmes aim to enhance and protect the value of the investments of our clients and safeguard their reputation. We measure and monitor progress on all engagements, setting clear objectives and specific milestones for our most intensive engagements.

We do not quantitatively track individual versus collaborative engagements, although we have a system in place whereby we record when an engagement has been undertaken jointly and have qualitative notes around this. We have engaged with 470 companies within our listed investment portfolios and of those, we engaged some individually, others collaboratively and sometimes both. Unfortunately, we're unable to reflect this split above accurately hence, we have split the companies engaged in half.  

Collaborative engagement is difficult to separate from individual engagement, as while most engagements include some form of collaboration, the level of collaboration differs significantly between engagements. In some cases, joint letters are sent, in some joint meetings are held, and in others there is simply discussion with other investors.

We regularly review the engagement coverage of our funds in order to ensure that resources are directed towards those companies in the portfolios where there may be the most significant ESG risks and where most value is at risk. More broadly, while the above figures describe those engagements with which we were pursuing specified objectives, our portfolio managers will typically meet with most, if not all, of their holdings during the course of the year during which ESG issues are routinely discussed alongside strategic and financial matters.


LEA 10. Engagement methods

10.1. Indicate which of the following your engagement involved.

(specify)

          Attending shareholder meetings
        

10.2. Additional information. [Optional]

We escalate the intensity of an engagement activity over time, depending on the nature of the challenges each company faces and the attitude of the board towards initiated dialogue. As a result, a company's intensity tiering may change. Some engagements may involve just one or two meetings; others are more complex and will entail multiple meetings with management and board members over several years. Such activity often requires persistence. Our long-term perspective enables us to persist with these difficult and time-consuming engagements.

Our engagements with companies may involve at various junctures:

  • meetings with executive and non-executive directors;
  • meetings with other company representatives;
  • discussions with other shareholders of the company;
  • participation in collaborative investor initiatives;
  • discussions with other relevant stakeholders such as industry representatives, the regulator, customer groups, etc; and attendance at and/or submission of shareholder resolutions at shareholder meetings.

With all engagements, we seek to build a strong relationship with the company and are willing to be patient, remaining focused on the achievement of goals that are directed towards long-term success.


LEA 11. Examples of ESG engagements

11.1. Provide examples of the engagements that your organisation or your service provider carried out during the reporting year.

ESG Topic
Climate Change
Conducted by
Objectives

EOS has pressed companies to set science-based targets, conduct climate-risk stress tests, and make enhanced disclosures. It has also asked companies to link executive pay to the achievement of climate change outcomes, and to ensure they do not lobby policymakers or regulators to hinder the achievement of the Paris Agreement goals. In 2019, EOS continued to participate in collaborative investor initiative Climate Action 100+, which targets over 100 of the world’s largest corporate greenhouse gas emitters. The aim is to curb emissions, strengthen climate-related financial disclosures, and improve governance on climate change risk and opportunities. The ultimate goal is to help limit global warming to less than 2°C, consistent with the Paris Agreement.

Scope and Process

EOS has an active role as lead or co-lead engager for 27 companies in this initiative, which has attracted over 370 investors with over $35 trillion under management. In 2019 EOS attended six annual shareholder meetings to promote action on the climate crisis – a mining company, an oil major, a utility, and three car manufacturers.

EOS helped co-ordinate the work of the IIGCC shareholder resolutions sub-group, identifying potential target companies for climate change-related resolutions, and formulated/coordinated engagement strategies for the utilities sector sub-group.

An oil major supported a shareholder resolution that EOS developed as CA100+ lead coordinating investor, calling on the company to set a strategy consistent with the Paris Agreement. This had co-filing support from investors owning almost 10% of the company – the largest ever secured for a climate change shareholder resolution – and it passed with the support of over 99% of shareholders at the 2019 AGM.

A UK utility announced an ambition to help its customers reduce emissions by 25% by 2030, and to develop a path to net zero by 2050. This followed EOS’s long dialogue with the company, including speaking at its annual shareholder meeting for the last four years.

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Human rights|Labour practices and supply chain management
Conducted by
Objectives

EOS engages on critical human rights issues including eradicating forced labour and child labour in supply chains. Many companies rely on global supply chains to access labour in low-cost regions, but the fragmented and opaque nature of these chains heightens the risk of human rights abuses. Traditional  announced audits may not uncover issues – more robust due diligence is needed. EOS engages with companies across five key areas: forced labour and modern slavery, child labour, living wages and purchasing practices, worker voice and gender-specific issues.

Scope and Process

EOS engaged with a Malaysian palm oil company over several years following NGO and media reports in 2012 of poor labour conditions at the company’s plantations in Liberia and its suppliers in Indonesia. 2013 saw further allegations of poor labour conditions in its supply chain and EOS urged it to provide clarity on how it was investigating and assessing the steps taken to avoid similar issues in the future. EOS continued to raise these concerns in further calls and correspondence over several years, during which the company appeared to be responding positively to consider improved disclosure and stakeholder outreach. During a call in 2017 the company committed to disclosing its migrant worker management process in its sustainability report – a significant improvement on transparency. In 2018 EOS asked the company to align its labour standards programme and move to industry best practices by reporting in line with the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights. EOS reiterated this request during calls in 2019 with the head of sustainability.

See additional box for more info on outcomes. 

Outcomes
ESG Topic
Diversity
Conducted by
Objectives

Despite plenty of evidence that diversity improves company performance, progress has been slower than hoped for in many parts of the world. EOS seeks balanced boards at companies – composed of directors with technical skills aligned with the strategic needs and direction of the company and a diversity of perspectives. This may include across gender, age, ethnicity, nationality, background, skills and experience, to improve decision-making and avoid groupthink. Getting the board right is often the first step towards addressing social or environmental issues to which the company may be exposed, which is why it is a significant feature in EOS’s engagement.

Scope and Process

EOS engaged with a Chinese technology company on board diversity after strengthening EOS corporate governance principles for China and Hong Kong in Q1 2019. EOS assesses diversity at both the board and management levels to ensure the leadership team has a suitable combination of talents. EOS expected boards to have at least one female director by 2019 and be comprised of at least 20% women by 2020.

In Q1 2019, EOS met the company’s senior legal counsel and wrote to the chair to call attention to the amended Hong Kong Corporate Governance Code of July 2018, which set higher expectations for the board nomination process and diversity. EOS recommended how to specify talent search criteria to encourage fairer and non-discriminatory practices. It also asked the company to consider reflecting the customer base and business needs when selecting board directors, as a good portion of the company's gamers are women. EOS recommended voting against a member of the nomination committee at the 2019 annual shareholder meeting. It communicated its voting recommendations and rationale to the company, ahead of the vote at a meeting in early May 2019. At the same meeting, EOS recommended further steps to speed up the transformation process.

Outcomes

11.2. Additional information. [Optional]

Example 2 - Additional info on outcomes 

Since EOS’s initial engagement, the company has strengthened its labour standards and disclosure and demonstrated a proactive approach to addressing supply chain labour issues. In 2014, it confirmed it would be issuing its first group sustainability policy including labour standards. Subsequently, it started training suppliers on labour standards compliance as part of its commercial contracts and commissioning external audits of its supply chain. It has also partnered with a reputable human rights consultant for a human rights impact assessment in its Liberian operations. The disclosure of audit findings and follow-up action plans have provided greater clarity for investors and other stakeholders on supply chain conditions.

Example 3 - Additional info on outcomes 

In EOS’s meeting with the company in early May 2019, it received confirmation that the company’s board acknowledged that gender diversity throughout the organisation should be improved. The company confirmed its commitment to taking initial steps to grow the talent pool for independent directors, including expanding the search to candidates beyond traditional technology and business backgrounds. In August 2019, the company appointed a female director with a health science background, one of the key areas where the company offers solutions through cloud and innovative technologies. The company continues to implement its board diversity policy to ensure that the board has the appropriate balance of skills, experience and diversity of perspective. It also strives to ensure that a certain percentage of promotions each year go to younger talent to maintain dynamism.

 


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