Top Stories

June 14, 2022


Microsoft & US CWA union enter into labour neutrality agreement

Technology company Microsoft and the labour union Communications Workers of America (CWA) have entered into a labour neutrality agreement, allowing employees to make choice “freely and fairly” about union representation. The agreement will apply to games developer Activision Blizzard beginning 60 days after Microsoft’s acquisition closes. This comes after Activision Blizzard recognised the CWA and began negotiations on behalf of a small group of quality assurance testers who voted to unionise. Microsoft President Brad Smith said the company will not resist unionisation efforts from its employees. Technology company employees are becoming increasingly more vocal about better pay and working conditions. More than 200 workers at technology giant Alphabet formed a labour union in its US and Canadian offices in 2021. (Reuters)


SEC investigates Goldman Sachs for “ESG greenwashing” in funds

The US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is investigating investment banking company Goldman Sachs’s asset management division over claims made by its environmental, social and governance funds. The civil investigation is scrutinising certain Goldman Sachs funds with ‘clean energy’ or ‘ESG’ in their names. Goldman rebranded its ‘Blue Chip Fund’ as the ‘US Equity ESG Fund’ in 2020. Goldman Sachs declined to comment on the situation. The investigation marks the latest development in the SEC’s investigations for potential greenwashing since it launched its ESG task force in 2021. The taskforce has already investigated the likes of asset manager BNY Mellon, which settled with the agency for allegedly misleading investors about ESG claims. SEC authorities are similarly investigating asset manager DWS Group for possible greenwashing. (Financial Times)*


Investors lobby for mandatory ESG reporting for food firms

A group of leading investors have called on the UK government to require food companies to report on their health and sustainability credentials. Called the Investor Coalition on UK Food Policy, the group brings together 23 investors with more than £6 trillion of assets under management. The coalition has argued that food reporting standards set out in the government’s Food Strategy do not go far enough. Instead, investors have warned that health and sustainability reporting should be mandatory, suggesting that voluntary measures could lead to weaker reporting and inconsistent metrics, making it difficult to track progress across the industry. The coalition has also stressed that mandatory reporting would empower investors to understand the risks food companies face and ensure they provide capital to funds committed to the transition to a sustainable food system. (Business Green)*


ISS ESG launches investor tool to assess firms’ modern slavery risks

The responsible investing arm of proxy advisory firm Institutional Shareholder Services (ISS) has announced the launch of its ‘Modern Slavery Scorecard’. The tool is designed to help investors assess modern slavery risks in their global portfolios and support modern slavery and supply chain-related reporting. According to ISS ESG, investors are experiencing rising disclosure expectations regarding their investments, with modern slavery and supply chain regulatory developments already introduced or being considered in over 10 jurisdictions across North America, Europe and Asia-Pacific. The Scorecard seeks to help investors assess portfolio exposure to modern slavery and to report on geographic, industry and product risk. It also aims to integrate granular data on risk, disclosure, and performance, as well as controversies into in-house assessments to inform due diligence processes. Currently, the scorecard covers about 7,400 issuers globally. (ESG Today)


Pension investors campaign against dual-class share structures

Leading UK and US pension investors managing more than $1 trillion have launched a campaign to stop companies using dual-class share structures. The pension investors argue the structure enables the concentration of voting power in the hands of certain shareholders at the expense of others. The Investor Coalition for Equal Votes was launched by railway pensions scheme Railpen and non-profit Council of Institutional Investors. Companies with dual-class structures have two or more types of shares with different voting rights, usually giving preferential voting powers to founders and early investors. The imbalance means most investors have less control over company decisions and can make it harder to collectively challenge issues like executive compensation and strategy. The group warned it will lobby market participants to make clear that proportionate shareholder voting is essential. (Reuters)

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