In the past year, our work to ensure the financial system serves people and planet has felt more critical than ever. Around the world, we’ve seen extreme weather events increase, more species at risk of extinction, health inequalities widening and the cost-of-living crisis making life harder for low-paid workers. We know that responsible investment is vital to not just prevent harmful practices, but accelerate solutions to address these problems.
In 2023, we were proud to work with an amazing network of supporters, funders and partners to unleash the positive potential of the financial system. You can read about what we achieved together in our new impact report.
10 ways we made change in 2023:
- We attended 99 AGMs to ask 119 questions to board members. We confronted the Directors of companies like Shell and Tesco to challenge them on their contribution to issues such as climate change and access to healthy food. 23 of these AGMs were outside the UK, in Europe and the US.
- We launched an ambitious new definition of responsible investment, challenging the sector to take impacts on people and planet as seriously as financial risk and return.
- Our experts worked with NGOs and industry professionals to develop Responsible Investment Standards and Expectations (RISE) guidance papers that provide a practical manual for best practice.
- We worked hard to persuade policymakers to ensure that new EU Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive rules would apply to the financial sector, actively engaged with Members of the European Parliament across political groups, and supported over 30 charities and investor allies with advocacy and media work.
- We joined forces to persuade French bank BNP Paribas to strengthen its oil and gas policy. We coordinated 25 investors with $1.4 trillion assets under management to write to the bank demanding it stop directly financing new oil and gas fields. In May, BNP Paribas announced new commitments, including financing restrictions, and will no longer directly finance new oil and gas.
- We published original analysis looking at how well pesticide companies protected the environment. We showed how companies aligned with existing and emerging standards for addressing biodiversity loss – and recommended actions that investors should demand to protect nature.
- We supported nine Deliveroo riders to attend Deliveroo’s AGM to make a powerful personal argument for action on wages, contracts and safety at work.
- Through our Healthy Markets initiative, we worked with 52 investors to enhance public health by increasing access to healthy food. We focused on household food manufacturers such as Nestlé and Unilever to hold them to account for their impact on public health. In 2023 we were pleased to see investors intensifying their efforts, raising the group’s collective ability to push for change.
- We called on companies to voluntarily report their ethnicity pay gap, as part of a wider campaign to pressure the government to introduce mandatory reporting on this issue for all companies who employ over 250 employees. Five companies have reported their ethnicity pay gap for the first time as a result of our engagement.
- We’ve been pushing for action to decarbonise the petrochemicals sector (chemical products derived from petroleum), targeting 13 major European chemicals companies to raise ambition and adopt credible transition plans aligned with limiting warming to 1.5C.
Looking ahead – our focus in 2024
Whilst the challenges can feel immense, there is room for hope. And at ShareAction, we’re working toward a brighter future. We know that investment decisions today shape the world of tomorrow.
It’s not too late to create a world where our financial institutions are powering the transition to low-carbon economies, restoring nature, ensuring workers are treated fairly, and shaping healthier societies.
This year, we’ll be:
- Using AGM season to highlight shortcomings and challenge companies to improve policies and practices.
- Publishing the findings of a major piece of research into the insurance sector, which will rank over 50 insurance firms on their approach to responsible investment.
- Launching new research and recommendations on how retailers can better protect workers and how shareholders can play their part.
- Broadening not only our climate work to push for reduced emissions from real estate, but also our work protecting nature to focus on areas of high biodiversity importance.
- Expanding our focus on corporate behaviour to include the impact of fast food outlets on public health.
2024 will be an important year as we see if world leaders can truly adopt practices that will limit the global temperature increase to 1.5C. At ShareAction, we’ll be doing everything possible to play our part in promoting responsible finance to help create a better future.
You can read the full impact report here.