International asset manager will step up its engagement with companies that fail to manage climate risk, mistreat their workers, or ignore human rights violations in their supply chains.
Robeco has signalled that it will target financial institutions that continue to finance high-carbon emitters, as well as high-carbon emitters themselves, with a focus on the worst offenders.
“So, for this program, we want to further shift gears in our engagement on the climate transition and focus on the ‘worst of the worst’ companies that are falling behind in the transition. These are the ones that won’t be pushed with a little nudge: they really need fundamental change to transition towards lower-carbon business models,” said Peter van der Werf, Robeco team lead for engagement.
“Their business models are still geared towards a different kind of energy landscape that rely on fossil fuels, and they need to focus on making concrete investments – or at least planning for investments – towards this energy shift.”
Robeco will also be engaging with companies over their treatment of workers, taking the view that their long-term viability is intrinsically tied to the welfare of their stakeholders as well as the communities they operate in.
“How companies treat their employees is a crucial proxy on how they can respond to other shocks,” said head of sustainable investing Carola van Lamoen.
“Ensuring an adequate level of employee satisfaction and upholding appropriate labor standards are crucial components to having a competitive advantage once the hospitality and other Covid-19-affected industries start to operate normally.”
Unusually, Robeco has also signalled that it will also look at the video game industry, which has seen significant growth off the back of lockdowns but has also made headlines for its treatment of workers as well as the controversial subject matter of video games themselves.
“The industry also faces labor problems due to the excessive use of overtime work by the game developers; some are forced to work long and unsociable hours. Managements of gaming companies will be asked to reflect on their product expectations – such as over-specification – their approach to design (which might be an all-or-nothing approach), and under-staffing,” Robeco said.