HESTA has urged companies it invests in to provide a climate strategy and management plan around social inequalities and biodiversity risks, highlighting growing investor concern about the impact of these risks on businesses.
Ahead of the next AGM season, the $68 billion industry super fund has outlined its engagement themes for the 2022/2023 financial year in a letter to the chairmen and chief executives of Australia’s 300 largest companies – versus the top 200 in Australia. last year – to deliver better returns for their members and broader economic resilience in Australia.
“Delivering good returns to our members requires a strong and stable economy and strong performance from our portfolio companies against their strategies,” said Debby Blakey, CEO of HESTA.
The letter also asked the companies to come up with gender balance targets for leadership and leadership positions, outlining how gender inequality affects the fund‘s portfolio, the Australian economy and retirement outcomes. its members, 80% of whom are women.
Focus on climate
Climate change remains crucial for the fund. “In addition to posing a financial risk to the value of our members’ investments, climate change is also relevant to the work our members do in health and community services,” Blakey said in the letter.
The super fund has been more vocal on environmental issues in its portfolio companies. Earlier this year, his public opposition to AGL’s proposed spin-off of its coal and renewable energy assets helped overturn the plan.
The fund has also expanded its investment team to focus on responsible investing, chief investment officer Sonya Sawtell-Rickson said at the Fiduciary Investment Symposium in June.
Responsible investment in Australia in 2021 reached a record $1.54 trillion in assets under management, according to data from the Responsible Investment Association of Australia, underscoring growing investor appetite in the space.