VICTORIA – Public sector pension plans are increasingly embracing a “responsible investment” approach that takes environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors into account, delegates at Wednesday’s pension forum learned.
The panel, moderated by CUPE BC Pensions Committee chair Frank Lee, was comprised of Peter Chapman, chair of the Shareholder Association for Research and Education (SHARE); Jennifer Coulson, senior manager of ESG integration for the BC Investment Management Corporation (IMC); and Judy Payne, executive director of the BC Municipal Pension Plan (MPP).
With greater societal expectation to invest ethically, outside pressure can make a difference.
Chapman cited the Rana Plaza factory collapse, when supermarket giant Loblaws learned that the logo of one of its clothing providers was captured in the rubble by TV cameras. Facing big losses, Loblaws joined an international group of companies committed to building safer factories in Bangladesh while contributing to a fund for victims.
The MPP, a signatory to Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI), believes that engaging with companies is a more effective strategy than disinvestment, said Payne.
Coulson said that IMC’s investment approach looks at the issues most relevant to a particular company.
“The numbers will show that we are quite critical and look at everything,” she said.