M&G International Investments Switzerland AG

Pushing for greater impact through company engagement

By using our influence to persuade companies to improve their disclosures and targets, impact investors can aspire to shape better outcomes for people and the planet.
The purpose of impact investing is ultimately to exact positive change. By putting our money to work in a purposeful way, investing in companies that are committed to solving the world’s challenges, we can aim to have a meaningful impact.
As active fund managers, we can also target a positive impact through how we invest, as well as what we invest in. We can do this by being a good influence.
Engaging for positive impact
In the same way that impact investing is about solving challenges, company engagement is about using our voice to help shape better outcomes. The purpose of engagement is multifaceted. One aspect is to enhance our understanding of the impacts – positive and negative – that each company has through its activities. Dialogue not only allows us to gain new knowledge and insights, but also allows us to push companies to enhance what they disclose publicly. As well as encouraging greater transparency, we might also try to persuade the companies we invest in to adopt more specific or more ambitious impact-related targets.
In 2020, a key concern for us was how our investee companies were being affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and what they were doing to address its negative ramifications. To learn how management teams were pursuing their positive impact goals, we sent a letter to the leadership of each company that one of our equity impact funds was invested in at the time.
We firstly asked for an update on efforts, activities or initiatives undertaken to help combat the impact of the crisis, through supporting the company’s community of stakeholders, and any steps that were directly aligned with the company’s core purpose. Secondly, we asked how the company balanced the interests and well-being of its workforce with issues such as executive compensation and shareholder returns.
We received responses from most companies, demonstrating overwhelming support for those affected by the pandemic. Overall, we were pleased to observe a strong alignment between the actions taken by companies and their mission statements.