By Ira Srivastava
1. 140 investors support a living wage that allows a decent standard of living. Investors managing US$4.5 trillion in assets have supported a statement published by the Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility that presents a business case for a living wage. The living wage is defined as the minimum income necessary for a worker to meet their basic needs and maintain a decent standard of living, and it varies by geographical area. The federal minimum wage in the United States is currently $7.25 an hour and has not increased since 2009, while 9 in 10 Americans live in regions where the living wage is at least $20 per hour. Companies that implement a living wage have reported higher productivity, employee retention, and loyalty. For example, when PayPal increased wages and reduced employee healthcare costs, their profits still grew by 28%. More information on implementing a living wage and steps companies can take can be found here.
2. Members of European Parliament vote on COP28 strategic objectives. Ahead of COP28, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted on the European Union’s strategic objectives at the climate conference. The resolution includes ending fossil fuel subsidies by 2025, tripling green energy capacity globally by the end of the decade, and ending new investments in oil and gas exploration. 462 MEPs voted in favour of the resolution while 164 opposed or abstained.
3. The overlooked aspect of ESG investing. When it comes to ESG, environmental issues such as water usage, waste management, and carbon emissions are easily quantifiable. The same cannot be said for social issues such as diversity and inclusion, human rights issues, wellbeing, and more. According to a 2021 survey, “more than half of the 350 institutional investors around the globe surveyed believed the “S” was the most difficult to analyse and integrate”. Interest in quantifying the social side of ESG has been growing, but the United States’ Securities and Exchange Commission’s proposed human capital disclosures may change that. Environmental and governance disclosures are already commonplace, but this could signal the first concrete and standardised social disclosures.
4. King Charles returns to COP. Last year, King Charles made headlines by announcing he would not attend COP27 in Egypt. This came after speculation as to whether he would continue advocating for climate action after ascending the throne, as British monarchs are expected to remain neutral on all political positions. The king did, however, travel to Dubai to speak at the COP28 opening ceremony, and launch the COP28 Business and Philanthropy Climate Forum. Nik Gowing, founder and co-author of Thinking the Unthinkable, describes having “recently watched him urge, persuade and cajole some 160 top industrial leaders into taking radical action on climate and sustainability”. As such, his return to COP is a good sign for meaningful climate action.
5. Companies are not prepared for third-party assurance of ESG data. A survey by KPMG found that ¾ of companies are not ready to receive outside assurance of their ESG reporting despite new regulations requiring it around the world. 44% of respondents shared that the biggest challenge they faced was cost and a lack of internal skills and experience. Murky and ever-evolving regulations were the main concern of 42% of respondents, and a lack of tools to measure ESG data was the primary issue for 36% of respondents.
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Ira Srivastava is Competent Boards’ Program Coordinator. Follow Competent Boards on LinkedIn.