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.
The EIRIS Foundation, as well as being one of the founding partners of CHRB, co-ordinates the team of 12 researchers who produce the assessments and our CEO Peter Webster, also co-chairs the Methodology Committee.
As the team responsible for the research and the quality of the results, we have implemented a very thorough research approach to hunt down companies’ public information and we have noticed that companies are disclosing more detailed and relevant information than we have seen in the past.
Over 2019 CHRB has benchmarked 200 companies in the Agriculture, Apparel, Extractives and ICT manufacturing on their human rights policies and performance. It uses publicly available information on issues such as forced labour, protecting human rights activists and the living wage to give companies a maximum possible score of up to 100%. In November 2019 an updated ranking was published using a revised methodology. Over the past three years, the project has seen the numbers of companies scoring in the 30-60% bands have doubled from 15 in 2017 to over 30 in 2019. Companies average scores have also seen an improvement of 13% from 2017 to 2019, with companies’ average scores increasing from 18% in 2017 to 31% in 2019.
On the basis of a grant from the Open Societies Foundation (OSF) the Foundation has continued to work upon 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 www.businessinoccupiedlands.org database has continued to be updated and improved. We built on the work done on our paper ‘Investor Responsibilities in Occupied Territories,’ by continuing to consult with businesses and other stakeholders on this issue. We also held a workshop with a large corporation who sought some bespoke advice on their operations which provided us with further practical insights that we can use to develop the project further