New coalition representing $2 trillion will increase investor capacity to address human rights and business risks through targeted action, education and multi-stakeholder engagement.
NEW YORK, NY, THURSDAY, MAY 24TH, 2018 – At an event held at Bloomberg, LP, the Investor Alliance for Human Rights, a new initiative designed to empower collective investor action on business and human rights, was launched this morning.
Convened by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR), the Alliance will coordinate investor action on priority human rights and business issues -- engaging corporations, state actors, and international organizations to ensure greater corporate respect for human rights.
A cross section of 101 institutional investors representing $2 trillion in assets under management have already joined the Alliance, including public and union pension funds, faith-based investors, asset managers and others. Membership in the Alliance is expected to grow as more investors engage companies to drive the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights into the core of corporate governance structures.
“Institutional investors often hold a wide range of multi-national companies across many sectors and, as a result, they may be inadvertently linked to a wide range of adverse human rights impacts,” said Paloma Muñoz Quick, Program Director for the Alliance. “Investors are expected to consider these risks throughout their investment processes and use their leverage to influence these companies to mitigate them. The Alliance is designed to help investors maximize their impact on business and human rights concerns through education, connections to resources, and collective action.”
Professor John Ruggie, the principal author of the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights, delivered the keynote for the morning’s event, followed by panel discussions with investor members of the Alliance centering on corporate engagements on human rights risks and ways to maximize investor impact through collective action.
Said Rev. Séamus Finn, ICCR’s Board Chair, “The responsible investment community has been actively engaging companies on environmental and governance themes for quite some time; in fact, ICCR has been at the forefront of this movement for nearly 50 years. But there hasn’t been quite as much collective action, particularly from larger funds, on the social or human rights front. This new Alliance is hoping to change that paradigm by shining a long-deserved light on the “S” in ESG investing.”
“For decades, ICCR has been a leader in engaging companies on human rights risks. The campaign against apartheid in South Africa, the MacBride Principles in Northern Ireland and more recently, the Bangladesh Investor Initiative after the tragic collapse of Rana Plaza are just a few examples of collective investor actions that have brought meaningful improvements in corporate practices,” said Pat Doherty of the New York State Common Retirement Fund, headed by Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. “The need for investor engagement on human rights today is more important than ever, and we welcome ICCR’s leadership in establishing this new Investor Alliance for Human Rights.”
“The outcomes of the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark pilot study are another signal that companies still have more work to do on respecting human rights. In order to be effective, more investors should use their leverage to engage companies in a dialogue about truly integrating respect for human rights in their strategies,” said Anna Pot of APG Asset Management. “We are grateful to ICCR for initiating the Investor Alliance for Human Rights that enables more investors to work in this important area.”
A new website for the Investor Alliance for Human Rights was also launched at the event featuring numerous resources for investor engagements on a wide variety of human rights and business topics.
Investors interested in learning more about the Alliance are encouraged to contact Paloma Muñoz Quick at [email protected].
The investor Alliance for Human Rights is supported by Humanity United and the Open Society Foundations.
About the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility (ICCR)
Celebrating its 47th year, ICCR is the pioneer coalition of shareholder advocates who view the management of their investments as a catalyst for social change. Its 300 member organizations comprise faith communities, socially responsible asset managers, unions, pensions, NGOs and other socially responsible investors with combined assets of over $400 billion. ICCR members engage hundreds of corporations annually in an effort to foster greater corporate accountability. www.iccr.org