Investors urge companies to prevent exploitation

Just 24% of companies monitor wage levels within their company and their supply chain, according to a new report

A coalition of more than 120 investors, collectively managing £10trn in assets, have urged companies to be more transparent with the data they publish on staff diversity, wages, health and safety, contracts, worker liaison practices and procurement methods.

The investor group called on global companies to do more, following the absence of several blue chip names from the annual Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) report, published on Wednesday (27 March) at the Sedex Conference in London and at the ICCR Conference in New York.

The initiative, co-ordinated by investor lobbying group, ShareAction, is backed by major fund groups including Amundi, Legal & General Investment Management, M&G Investments and UBS Asset Management.

In total, 90 global businesses participated in this year’s report, including household names Adidas, AIA Group, AT&T, Barrick Gold, BHP, H&M, Microsoft, Nestlé, Rolls-Royce, Sainsbury’s, Telstra, and Toyota.

This year’s report found that just 24% of companies monitor the wage levels within their company and their supply chain to ensure staff are protected against low pay and exploitation.

“There are challenges to disclosing more workforce data,” said Amy Metcalfe, head of programmes at ShareAction. “But the leadership shown by 90 companies across 11 sectors demonstrates that these challenges can and should be overcome.

“Not least because the reporting process provides insights that benefit corporate governance, and because calls from shareholders, civil society, and worker organisations for better data and action to deliver on the promise of decent jobs are only getting louder.”

Matt Christensen, head of responsible investment at AXA Investment Managers, added: “AXA IM is a strong supporter of the WDI and is pleased to see the growing number of reporting companies.”