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LONDON – More than 100 institutional investors which manage over US$12 trillion of assets are demanding better information from apparel brands such as Gap, H&M, Nike and Inditex on issues such as workers’ rights and health and safety in supply chains. The investor group features institutions in 11 countries including Schroders, UBS, Amundi, HSBC Asset Management, Axa Investment Managers, and Legal and General IM.

Coordinated by ShareAction’s Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) – launched last year – the investor signatories are backing a survey sent to 500 global companies from 11 sectors, asking for improved supply chain data. Companies, which include a significant apparel sector contingent, are selected based on their market capitalisation, significance within their sector, and size of their workforce. They have received an invitation letter from the WDI coalition and a deadline for response of 22 October 2018.

The WDI was launched in response to investor concerns that the quality of data from companies about workforce management is weak and inconsistent between comparable firms. It is hoped the data generated will allow investors to understand and engage with companies in support of smart management of ‘human capital’, as well as about their exposure to the risks of poor workforce practices.

The WDI’s ultimate goal is to improve the quality of jobs in the operations and supply chains of multinational companies, which would contribute towards poverty alleviation and the delivery of Sustainable Development Goal 8 – ‘decent work for all’.

Matt Christensen, global head of responsible investment, AXA IM, said: “As a long-term investor looking to provide our clients with a tailored offering while creating positive impact on society, we very much welcome the WDI initiative to better integrate the S in our investment case. As companies have been reinforcing their disclosures on environmental topics over recent years, we wish to see a similar effort with social factors. Companies should disclose data that is material, consistent and comparable enough to truly understand their approach to workforce management in their annual reports.”

Liza McDonald, head of responsible investment, First State Super, added: “We believe integrating ESG issues into our investment process will lead to favourable long-term outcomes for our members. By collaborating with other investors through the WDI we want to encourage companies, both in Australia and further afield, to improve their reporting on workforce and supply chain related topics.”

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