CCLA launches global mental health benchmark

Assessing the progress of the world's largest listed companies

CCLA Investment Management has on World Mental Health Day launched a mental health benchmark to evaluate the world’s largest listed companies.

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100 aims to be an engagement and accountability tool for responsible investors to help assess how companies are approaching workplace mental health.

The firm found just 15% of companies have publicly set mental health targets, with just 19% setting out plans for implementing mental health policies.

According to the Global Health Data Exchange, around 15% of the world’s working population experiences a mental disorder at any given time, while the World Health Organisation reports that for every $1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of $4 in improved health and productivity.

“There is clear evidence to show that improving the mental health of an organisation saves money and that the financial ramifications of failing to improve corporate mental health are profound,” said Amy Browne (pictured), stewardship lead at CCLA.

“According to a study by Deloitte, mental ill health in the workplace costs employers annually an average of $1,900 per private sector employee. If we consider that the 100 companies in the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark Global 100 employ almost 19 million people worldwide, between them, that translates to $36bn lost, each year, to mental ill health.”

CCLA’s global benchmark follows its UK 100 companies mental health benchmark, which was launched in May. Speaking at Good Money Week last week Browne explained the success of the UK benchmark and how it operates.

“What we’ve seen is that the benchmark we’ve launched and created is really strengthening the hand of those within organisations who are trying to make headway on mental health,” she said.

“We have five performance tiers in the benchmark,” she continued referencing the ranking of benchmark companies according to the maturity of their approach to mental health. Currently the only tier one company – the top performers – from the UK benchmark is HSBC, with AstraZeneca, BHP Group and Unilever ranking as tier two.

“We now have the top executives listening and we need to know what to do to improve,” Browne added.

Both benchmarks will run annually and are supported by a coalition of 34 institutional investors, representing a combined $7trn in assets under management, who are signatories to the CCLA Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health.

“Investors should call on companies to signal their board and senior management commitments to promoting mental health at work and to recognise the link between mental health and the principles of ‘good work’, which include issues such as diversity, flexible working and financial wellbeing,” said Principles for Responsible Investment CEO David Atkin.

“I look forward to seeing how companies respond to increased scrutiny of workplace mental health by institutional investors and, over time, I hope that more companies will be able to realise the business and wider societal benefits from creating the conditions in which all their workers can thrive.”

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Natasha Turner

Natasha is global deputy editor at ESG Clarity, part of the Bonhill Group, and has been a financial journalist for six years. She has been shortlisted for Story of the Year and Investment Journalist of...