Responsible investing is a growing trend amongst major global corporations, says president and chief executive officer of Calvert Research and Management, John Streur, with Australian fund managers more up to speed in terms of corporate engagement and stewardship than some US funds.
Streur said the trend of responsible investing was growing, and noted that “three years ago, fund managers wouldn’t discuss ESG investments”, but that now Calvert has noticed “change and improvement” within the market system.
Despite investment performance having remained the top Calvert principle in responsible investing, big corporations were still interested in managing ESG risks for both portfolio quality reasons and environmental reasons.
“Both these types of investors want the same access to global information regarding ESG investing. So we are seeing a growing transparency in information for this reason,” said Streur.
Streur drew on topical issues such as gun control and the opioid crisis in the US to demonstrate how Calvert worked to engage with corporations and lead them towards responsible investing.
“We engage directly and privately with companies and inform them of what they need to change. If they don’t respond appropriately, we file a shareholder resolution,” he said. “We have formed a coalition with states whose constituents have been exposed to the opioid crisis, for example, and we ask companies to engage with their shareholders and alter management at a senior level if necessary to enact change.”
Streur also said from meeting with Australian pension funds, he has noted they are on the journey to integrating ESG investments.
“Australians are up to speed in terms of corporate engage and stewardship,” he said. “They are planning to integrate ESG information with techniques of investment across the board.”