Promoting social equity with investments
Doing what is right for our people and the communities in which we operate helps us deliver positive outcomes for our shareholders. The far-reaching impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic highlight the persistence of social and economic inequality in the 21st century, and have forced us to take a hard look at the vulnerabilities in our local, state and national systems.
Investors can influence significant social change through responsible capital allocation and active ownership in pursuing outcomes with benefits that extend far beyond the bottom line. This further underlines the importance for us to facilitate discussion with companies on their specific responses to this situation.
As long-term investors, this is a crucial time to maintain pressure and push for real structural and institutional change, particularly in regard to health care, social support structures and gender equality. Striving for equality is about more than doing the right thing: it is also about acting in the best interests of an entity and its stakeholders—shareholders included. As asset managers, as with any element of ESG, our responsible allocation of capital can be fully aligned with our obligation to protect and grow clients’ wealth.
In 2020 the COVID-19 pandemic motivated us to help our investment teams refocus on the “S” in ESG. Core social issues such as employee welfare, access to health care, consideration of corporate culture and supply chain sustainability are all directly related to this pandemic. We are providing investors with enhanced education on such factors through our Global Investors Council ESG Subcommittee.
With many of the world’s largest companies adapting to remote working models due to the pandemic, flexible working and mental health support are increasingly important topics. Future working patterns are likely to change drastically, and corporate responses will become even more vital.
Active ownership is crucial to ensuring that the necessary organizational responses transcend mere box-checking and are genuinely geared toward the greater good. As investors, we have the opportunity to encourage policies that support diversity, equity and fair treatment at our portfolio companies. If properly devised and implemented, socially responsible solutions square moral and fiduciary duties by potentially enhancing both ESG performance and financial performance.
Invesco continues to encourage our investee companies to take the steps they can to mitigate the social impacts caused by the global pandemic. We have been engaging on these topics as part of our ongoing one-on-one ESG engagements.