Ausbil Investment Management’s head of ESG research, Mans Carlsson-Sweeny, has received an anti-slavery accolade for his work across investment supply chains.
Mr Carlsson-Sweeny has scored the Anti-Slavery Australia Freedom Award Certificate of High Commendation for his contribution in identifying the risk of modern slavery in investment and promoting better awareness around slavery in the investor community.
The awards are the first to be given since the Modern Slavery Act came into effect in Australia this year.
The first round of reporting under the bill kicked off in July – with companies operating in Australia and generating a revenue greater than $100 million having to account for their risks of contributing to slavery, as well as their actions on it.
Ausbil consulted with the government on the act as an “investor voice,” as Mr Carlsson-Sweeny described it.
He has noted Australian investors are facing tougher transparency measures than their overseas counterparts, in particular stating “the Australian Modern Slavery Act has more teeth than the UK one.”
Ausbil added in researching supply chains and the risks of modern slavery, Mr Carlsson-Sweeny has travelled extensively for primary research and information gathering in countries such as Bangladesh, Cambodia, China and Thailand.
“Ultimately, it comes down to earnings sustainability,” he said.
“A business model that relies on underpaid workers, weak regulation, weak enforcement of laws or even illegal activities like slavery is not sustainable.”
Fiona Reynolds, chair of the Financial Sector Commission of Modern Slavery and Human Trafficking told Investor Daily in April that the sector has a role to play in eliminating the issue.
“Investors can play a big role through leverage with the companies in which we invest, and institutional investors have high expectations about how corporate Australia should behave in helping reduce the incidence of modern slavery,” Mr Carlsson-Sweeny said.
“We believe that companies that do better in terms of corporate practices are in a better position to deliver better, and more sustainable investment returns.”
Ausbil developed a statement on modern slavery in 2016, highlighting the issue as an investment risk along with listing what it would like to see companies do to mitigate it in global supply chains and operations.
It also chaired a subcommittee of the Responsible Investment Association of Australasia’s (RIAA) human rights working group last year, which produced an investor toolkit on the matter, suggesting how investors could engage constructively with companies to mitigate workers’ issues.
Sarah Simpkins is a journalist at Momentum Media, reporting primarily on banking, financial services and wealth.
Prior to joining the team in 2018, Sarah worked in trade media and produced stories for a current affairs program on community radio.
You can contact her on [email protected].