Asset managers back Rathbones’ Modern Slavery campaign

Rathbones leads investor call to 23 FTSE-350 companies to comply with Modern Slavery Act


Natalie Kenway

Rathbones’ has spearheaded an investor call to 23 FTSE-350 companies that are currently not complying with the Modern Slavery Act urging them to take action

Ahead of the 2020 AGM season, Rathbones’ stewardship director Matt Crossman sent letters to he companies urging them to meet the reporting requirements of Section 54 of the UK Modern Slavery Act 2015. If the first round of engagement is not successful, Rathbones said it will reveal the names of the 23 firms.

Signatories on the letters include asset managers Aberdeen Standard, Aviva Investors, Legal & General, Man Group and Boston Common Asset Management (see below for the full list).

Rathbones said the letters detail the nature of the non-compliance, the steps required to remedy the situation, and an explanation that members of the engagement coalition will consider withholding support for the approval of the annual report and accounts at the company’s next AGM should action not be taken.

Crossman said: “Rathbones – through its ethical and sustainable investment division, Rathbone Greenbank Investments – played a leading role in the development of the landmark 2015 Modern Slavery Act, which requires all UK companies over a certain size to report in detail their approach to finding and eliminating modern slavery within their supply chains.

“As long-term investors, we believe it is fundamentally important that companies comply with all provisions of the Modern Slavery Act 2015 to demonstrate a strong commitment to fighting modern slavery. Non-compliance poses a serious risk to long-term investors and leads us to question the suitability of investing in such companies.”

The firm highlighted modern slavery is a widespread, criminal activity which has a significant economic impact globally – it is estimated to be a $150bn trade, which involves approximately 40.3 million people in some form of slavery.

During the 2019 AGM season, Rathbones engaged with three FTSE 100 companies it had determined to be non-compliant with the Modern Slavery Act using the same approach, and was successful, in terms of them becoming compliant, in two of those cases.

The signatories supporting the engagement include:

–       Aberdeen Standard

–       Australianethical

–       Aviva Investors

–       Boston Common Asset Management

–       Brunel Pension Partnership

–       CCLA

–       Church Commissioners for England

–       Church of England Pensions Board

–       ECO Advisors

–       ISGAM AG

–       LAPFF

–       Legal & General

–       LGPS Central

–       LUCRF

–       Man Group

–       Mercy Investment Services Inc

–       Pensions Caixa 30

–       USS

–       West Midlands Pension Fund


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