Ethical Partners has made a submission this week to the Australian Parliament on the Customs Amendment (Banning Goods Produced by Uyghur Forced Labour) Bill 2020.
Modern Slavery and Forced Labour is an area of deep engagement and critical analysis for Ethical Partners, and is something we discuss with all of our portfolio companies. Evidence clearly shows the abhorrent and human rights violating situation involving the Uyghur people, to which Australian investors and corporates are markedly exposed through the import of products and their supply chains. We furthermore believe that investors have a very important role in advocating for action on these issues, both in order to better mitigate forced labour risks in their portfolios and to create positive impact.
Pleasingly, in a nod to our extensive investment and engagement process, we note that the two fashion companies that have adequately addressed the risks of Uyghur labour in their inaugural Modern Slavery Statements are Kathmandu – a long standing holding of the Ethical Partners Australian Share Fund and Woolworths – a company with whom we have had long term engagement and dialogue.
Please see attached our Submission.
Globally, 15% of the population are persons with disabilities. The labor force participation rate globally for people with disabilities sits at 32.8% compared to 77.1% for those without disabilities. We believe it is imperative that investors use their shareholder voice to raise the awareness of this important diversity issue and help companies to improve their inclusion.
During February 2021 the Fund returned -0.08% versus the S&P/ASX 300 Accumulation Index of 1.48%, underperforming the market by -1.55%. An overweight position in Consumer Staples and an underweight position in Healthcare contributed to relative performance while an overweight position in Utilities and an underweight position in Materials detracted from relative performance.
The Australian Modern Slavery Act 2018 requires certain entities based, or operating in Australia, to report annually on the risks of Modern Slavery in their operations and supply chains, and actions to address those risks. Other entities, based or operating in Australia may report voluntarily. Whilst Ethical Partners does not meet the threshold for mandatory reporting, we have chosen to report voluntarily, as we believe that investors, asset managers and the financial sector have a crucial role to play in addressing Modern Slavery.
Ethical Partners has recently joined a range of stakeholders in creating 2021 Action Pledges that will contribute towards ending child labour by 2025. Backed by a resolution at the United Nations General Assembly, 2021 was declared as the International year for the Elimination of Child Labour.