Collective leverage increases to €2,3 trillion in Assets Under Management
As of 31 January 2019, the Platform Living Wage Financials (PLWF) has expanded from eight to eleven members.The addition of two major Dutch banks ABN AMRO and ING and Europe’s largest asset manager Amundi implies not only a significant expansion of collective leverage, but it also enables the PLWF to expand its overall reach to more sectors, companies, suppliers, and ultimately workers. This should, in turn, enable the investor coalition to be more effective in advancing sectoral improvement on living wage through holistic, sector-wide engagement.
The originally Dutch investor coalition that aims to address living wages in the global supply chain was officially launched on 27 September 2018 in The Hague. The launch of the initiative has drawn attention to the role investors can play in advancing improved company practices on living wage. Despite its relatively short existence, the coalition has successfully supported positive momentum behind the topic and gained recognition for deep diving into the social domain of sustainable investment. With the addition of Amundi, the coalition also moves beyond the Dutch financial sector and gains an international character.
New members on PLWF
“Protecting human rights is central to everything we do at ABN AMRO. It is an important factor in our investment decisions and we were the first financial institution in the world to publish an extensive report on human rights according to the ‘UN Guiding Principles for Businesses and Human Rights’. By considering living wage in assessing companies and investment managers we believe that multiple human rights can be addressed. Next to poverty, living wage issues are often related to social issues such as child labour and rights to healthy living. ABN AMRO is pleased to join the ‘Platform for Living Wage’ and is looking forward to contributing to engagement efforts to improve standards and is keen to collaborate with other investors on this topic. With over EUR 200 billion in client assets we aim to significantly contribute to the efforts of the platform that already proves to fulfil a leading role in addressing and engaging living wage concerns.”
Vincent Triesschijn, Director Sustainable Investment at ABN AMRO Bank
“As a responsible asset manager, long-term partner of its clients and corporates in which they invest, Amundi considers engagement to be the best way to improve market practices. Social issues are among the most important global challenges we have to address. Amundi carried out a campaign for influence over the past 2 years focusing on living wage. That is why we joined PLWF in 2018. The right for all to have access to decent work and a decent wage is outlined by the ILO and SDG8 pertaining to Decent Work and Economic Growth. Going forward Amundi hopes to increase its impact by leveraging resources with the PLWF to exert a stronger influence on companies whose operations affect living wages globally, and encourage ILO standards on decent wage to spread.”
Stanislas Pottier, Chief Responsible Investment Officer at Amundi
“The ING Investment Office NL supports and guides customers in making investment choices. In doing so, we do not directly engage with the companies we invest in, but have dialogues with the asset managers who directly interact with investees. As a member of the PLWF, we are aware of the important role living wage can play in the development of people and poverty alleviation. Since this is also a very difficult and unquantifiable topic, we realize it is better to work together with financials to learn from each other – which companies do well, which ones are able to create change, what works well – and create leverage to encourage others to do the right thing. In the end this will give us the opportunity to have a living wage dialogue with our own asset managers and motivate them to take the discussion forward with the investees.”
Jochen Harkema and Peter Tros, Sustainable Investment Analysts at ING Bank
In 2019, the PLWF will officially expand its coverage to include the food and agricultural and food retail sectors. In March 2019, the coalition plans to conduct a broad stakeholder consultation on its updated methodology, which is now being redesigned to fit the specific aspects of the food and agricultural and food retail sectors.
Ongoing company engagement
The PLWF will also continue its dialogue with the garment and footwear sector urging the industry to advance payment of living wages in the supply chain. Through company engagement, the coalition will address, among others, companies’ purchasing practices, supplier capacity building, social dialogue, or the challenges connected with the tracking of wage trends over time. It will also aim to stimulate improved company disclosure and data transparency on the topic. By assessing investee companies annually, progress can be monitored in a sound way, as done in 2018.
In the second half of 2018, the PLWF engaged and assessed twenty-one garment and footwear brands (see also www.livingwage.nl). These garment and footwear brands were assessed against a living wage assessment methodology aligned with the United Nations Guiding Principles. Fourteen of these assessments were externally assured by Mazars. Additionally, ten new garment and footwear brands were introduced for engagement in Q4 2018.
Collaboration is key
The coalition will continue consulting and engaging stakeholders such as the Fair Labor Association (FLA), Fair Wear Foundation (FWF), ACT, Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI), Investor Alliance on Human Rights (IAHR), Solidaridad, sustainability certification bodies, unions, and others. The PLWF strongly believes that only if all stakeholders, including investors, brands, multi-stakeholder initiatives, NGOs and government work together, can we effectively address living wage and ensure that globalization becomes more inclusive.