To our valued clients and contacts,
We hope you are staying well and adjusting as well as possible to the challenges of this COVID-19 crisis.
We just wanted to let you know that, whilst the markets have been in turmoil, ESG remains as important a focus at Ethical Partners as always, and we strongly believe that there is a very important role for Responsible Investors to play in this crisis. The landscape of ESG is rapidly changing within this crisis, with new issues evolving, and old issues being amplified, and we are doing our best to learn how we can continue to advocate and engage on these issues in such a volatile and difficult market space.
To that effect, last week we signed on to the Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response.
Signing this statement affirms that we at Ethical Partners:
- recognise that the long-term viability of the companies in which we invest is inextricably tied to the welfare of their stakeholders, including their employees, suppliers, customers and the communities in which they operate.
- call on these management teams and boards of directors to join us in facing this unprecedented threat
- acknowledge that board directors are accountable for long term human capital management, and that the companies will be well served by having retained a well-trained and committed workforce when business operations are able to resume
- believe that this crisis poses grave risks to basic societal stability and the financial markets
- believe that maintaining business reputation, consumer confidence and the social licence to operate it is crucial for businesses to priorities the health and safety of both their workers and the public
To this end we are urging the companies we invest in, and the wider business community as a whole, to
(1) Provide paid leave, including to temporary, part-time, and subcontracted workers, in order to make social distancing and social isolation possible
(2) Prioritise health and safety, including shift management, remote work, enhanced protections, training, cleaning and closing locations as needed
(3) maintain employment by taking every step possible to retain workers and avoid unemployment, and be mindful of discrimination if layoffs are necessary
(4) maintain supplier and customer relationships as much as possible, maintaining timely payments to suppliers and working with customers facing financial challenges and working to ensure a stable supply chain is in place to resumer business operations where possible
(5) use financial prudence and the highest level of ethical financial management and responsibility during this crisis. This may mean suspending share buybacks, limiting executive and senior management compensation during this crisis
(6) Address other relevant issues such as :
- childcare assistance
- hazard pay
- assistance in accessing government support
- employer paid health insurance for laid off workers
- deploying resources to meet the crisis needs
We will be engaging on these, and other relevant issues as they present, with all the companies we invest in and analyse.
We look forward to sharing the results of these engagements and advocacy with you over time.
Sustainability Research & Advocacy
Tatrai Giving Fund Manager
During September 2020 the Fund returned -3.40% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of -3.60%, outperforming by 0.20% (after fees). Overweight positions in Insurance stocks and an underweight position in Construction stocks and Healthcare detracted from performance while overweight positions in Industrials (specifically Building Products) and underweight positions in Information Technology and Energy contributed to performance
Emma McCarthy recently joined Ethical Partners. Emma is a passionate final year law student and joins us as Sustainability and Advocacy Assistant. We are honoured to share with you her reflections on the recent UN Global Compact conference, and how it inspired her, as a new recruit to the global sustainability and human rights community, on her journey to fight for change.
During August 2020 the Fund returned 4.10% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 3.05%, outperforming by 1.05% (after fees). Overweight positions in Consumer Staples and Industrials added to performance while stocks in General Insurance and Building Products detracted from performance.
It appears that the Australian economy will be asked to grow itself out of debt post COVID rather than experience an increase in taxes once the economy is more stable. So what are the long term projects that would change Australia for the better? It was quite timely indeed then that the Australian Energy Market Operator (AEMO) recently released its 2020 Integrated System Plan (ISP). It appears to us that AEMO has put down the framework for how Australia will operate with less coal fired electricity generation given we have an aging fleet which will be gradually de-commissioned over the next 20 years.The AEMO Plan is a whole of system blueprint for the evolution and change the electricity market will experience in the 20 years to 2040. It expects 63% of the current coal fired power stations to close by then based on company disclosures and end of life assumptions. Herein lies Australia's great stimulus opportunity.