Top Stories

November 03, 2020


BAME appointments stall on boards of biggest UK companies 

Women accounted for more than half of appointments to boards in the past financial year as the UK’s largest companies addressed gender disparities, but progress on ethnic diversity among company directors stalled. The number of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) directors stayed broadly the same across the 150 biggest listed companies at 8 percent, according to the annual boardroom report from Spencer Stuart, the executive search firm. The research showed that while the number of new BAME non-executives has almost doubled in the past five years, the number of executive directors has halved to 2.6 percent. UK companies trail counterparts in the US, where ethnic minority directors represent about a fifth at the top 200 S&P 500 companies. (Financial Times*) 

Climate Change 

History made as millennial wins lawsuit against superannuation fund for not doing enough on climate change

A 25-year-old from Brisbane has successfully sued one of Australia’s biggest superannuation funds, Rest, over its handling of climate change, forcing it to commit to net-zero emissions for its investments by 2050. It is the first time a superannuation fund has been sued for failing to consider climate change, marking an historic precedent. Mark McVeigh alleged Rest had breached the Superannuation Industry Act and the Corporations Act by failing to manage climate risks including fossil fuel companies plummeting in value or infrastructure being damaged by extreme weather. Beyond its net-zero commitment, Rest acknowledged that “climate change is a material, direct and current financial risk” and agreed to begin testing its investment strategies against various climate change scenarios. (ABC) 


L’Oréal unveils ‘world’s first’ plastic bottles made from captured carbon

Cosmetics company L’Oréal has created a prototype shampoo bottle made from ‘recycled’ captured carbon, mitigating the need for virgin fossil-based plastics. The bottle has been developed as part of the toiletry giant’s partnership with fuel and petrochemicals major Total and carbon capture technology developer LanzaTech. L’Oréal is aiming to add the material to its bottles of shampoo and conditioner by 2024. It said in a statement that it will continue working with Total and LanzaTech to develop a roadmap for scaling up production and that it would like other companies to join the project to help create economies of scale for the material. (edie) 


Businesses making eco-friendly claims to be vetted by watchdog

Companies that market their products or services as eco-friendly are to be scrutinised by the UK competition watchdog to make sure they live up to the claim and do not mislead consumers. The Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) said it was concerned that a rise in demand for green goods could encourage some businesses to make misleading claims about the environmental impact of what they are selling. The investigation will include a number of sectors, but the CMA said it was likely to focus on areas where consumers appeared to be most concerned about such claims, including fashion, cosmetics, food and cleaning products. This follows a surge in ‘eco-friendly’ claims and self-certification with consumers spending £41 billion on goods and services that were billed as ethical or environmentally friendly in 2019. (The Guardian) 

Climate Change 

6 in 10 UK SMEs believe net-zero and the green recovery is good for business

Almost two-thirds of small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in Britain believe that the move to a greener economy post-Covid-19 presents positive opportunities. The poll conducted by Opinium on behalf of think tank the Entrepreneurs Network and the Enterprise Trust surveyed more than 500 SMEs. The research found that 54 percent of respondents had already taken steps to make their business more sustainable in the past 18 months, with most of this cohort citing increased expectations from consumers, staff and those applying for jobs. However, 68 percent called out that government support for SMEs seeking to align with, or go beyond, the requirements of green policy is either average or poor. (edie)