Our vision is a financial and corporate system that encourages sustainable and responsible wealth creation and management. Our mission is to use research, analysis and influence to identify gaps, barriers, opportunities and enablers so that we can help organizations and individuals maximise their contribution to the responsible business and investment agenda. So ESG factors are central to all that we do.
We undertake and publish research into responsible investment and the social and ethical aspects of businesses in the UK and overseas and how those may be relevant to investment policies and we assist other charities by providing information and advice to help them choose investments which do not conflict with their aims or otherwise hamper their work. We look at the integration of environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors into all forms of investment, engagement with companies relating to holdings of equities, bonds and other investments, thematic investment in areas like green bonds or “impact investing” in enterprises with social, environmental or ethical objectives as well as screening investment portfolios.
In carrying out this work we are guided by some operating principles:
- Maintaining high standard of independence and rigour in our research with a focus upon the public interest
- Acknowledging the different investors will take different approaches to responsible investment and seeing our role as being to facilitate each investor's ability to achieve their own objectives in this field through reliable independent information, choices as to how that might be applied to their circumstances, and helpful advice.
- We will consult companies or investors who we research or work on (or a sample of them) and provide opportunities for review and further input before we publish information about them.
How this links with our business offering
We assist other charities with regards to responsible investment chiefly in two ways. The first approach is advice and assistance to charities in developing their own ethical or responsible investment policies. The Foundation’s charitysri.org website also continues to provide a resource for charities to consider different ways of developing their own responsible investment policies (depending upon their objectives and circumstances) and we plan to maintain and develop this going forward.
The second approach is to help charities identify ways in which other responsible investors (whether larger institutions, or their own members and supporters) can advance the charity’s objectives through the approach the investor’s approach to responsible investment. This can include identifying the environmental social and governance issues investors may incorporate in their engagement and risk management approaches as well as investments and strategies that could advance the charity’s objectives while assisting the investor in their pursuit of long term sustainable wealth creation.
EIRIS has been one of six founding partners working on a Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB) which launched in December 2014. In March 2016 CHRB published its methodology for assessing the largest 100 companies in the extractives, apparel and food/agricultural products sectors on the basis of a widespread and global consultation with some 400 individuals and organisation as to the best way to assess human rights policies, practices and performance. The first benchmark using this methodology was successfully published in March 2017. In 2018 further results were published using a revised methodology and it was found that 40 out of 101 major extractive, agricultural and clothing or footwear companies ranked by the benchmark are failing to demonstrate respect for human rights on paper or in practice
On the basis of a grant from the Open Society Foundation (OSF) the EIRIS Foundation has continued to work on the Investment in Occupied Lands project which undertook research on Companies operating in Crimea and the Occupied Palestinian Territories (West Bank and Gaza Strip) with the help of the team at EIRIS Conflict Risk Network who are expert in exploring business and human rights issues in particular countries. The research for the www.businessinoccupiedlands.org database has been expanded to include private equity companies and also identifying ultimate listed companies in cases where the listed company we have identified is itself as subsidiary or associate of another listed company. The aim of the project is to encourage discussion and thought amongst investors and others about the responsibilities of business when operating in such disputed territories. As part of this project in 2018 we produced human rights due diligence guidance with a report entitled: Questions to help companies respect human rights in occupied territories