This post by Chris Fowle of Principles for Responsible Investment is part of a series in which IEN members will share their thinking about intentional endowment investing in the face of this global pandemic. Follow along to get insight into the new challenges and opportunities we as a network are facing.
Chris Fowle, Head of Americas, Principles for Responsible Investment and IEN Steering Committee Member
These are challenging times across the world and for the investment community, and we hope that you, your family, friends and colleagues are doing well in this new reality.
We recognise that this is a particularly difficult time for many of you, and that business activities are being significantly disrupted. You may have seen the recent message from PRI’s CEO Fiona Reynolds, noting how values of community and mutual support are shining through. The overriding message is: we at the PRI are here to help and that extends to our fellow IEN members. She articulated this further in a Responsible Investor interview on April 3rd.
While focus for many of you will very understandably have been on the personal and professional impacts of COVID-19, know that at PRI, we are working hard to support responsible investors during this time. We have just published a guide to stewardship in the time of the pandemic, and have established two signatory participation groups to coordinate investor responses to the crisis: one to focus on short-term responses and ensuring responsible ESG approaches remain at the front of investor activities; and a second to focus on a future economic recovery phase, considering how the financial system should function to ensure sustainable outcomes.
These groups encourage signatory exchange and build support and action on the highest priority asks for investors, companies and governments. We urge all PRI signatories to join and share knowledge to collectively tackle this crisis.
Human capital is the theme that has come up the most in the short-term group posts, and in general, social issues have taken center stage. We have seen a range of posts asking others for their experience or sharing their own experience in areas including health and safety, supply chain management, marginalised populations, indigenous people’s rights and localization of employment. Furthermore, people have shared experiences in engaging with external managers and how corporates have responded to engagements and differing priorities during this crisis.
While many of you are working from home, we’re keen to stay connected with you via our webinar and our podcast channels. On April 21, PRI’s CEO, Fiona Reynolds, participated in a high-level webinar discussion organized by the UN Global Compact, one of PRI’s UN partners, about the implications of the COVID-19 pandemic and how to finance the recovery through a responsible business lens. Miguel Nogales, the CIO of Generation Investment Management was also on the panel. Participants shared concrete steps and regional perspectives on investing in a more resilient economic system through global frameworks such as the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).
We’ll keep an open line of communication with you and fellow IEN members, and as noted at the start, we are here to help.