Investors representing more than USD 2.2 trillion in assets under management or advice are coming together to call on the companies they invest in to respect workers’ fundamental rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining.
Launch of Labour Rights Investor Network coincides with event at US Department of Labor
The Labour Rights Investor Network (LRIN) is a global initiative that brings together asset managers, asset owners and investment service providers committed to integrating labour rights into their stewardship practices. LRIN signatories include the New York City Employees’ Retirement System and Teachers’ Retirement System, Sweden’s Folksam and the UK-based Local Authority Pension Fund Forum.
The launch of the Network coincides with an event at the US Department of Labor aimed at highlighting how businesses and investors can become more resilient and competitive by harnessing the growing global movement for worker voice. The event, “New Frontiers for Empowering Workers and Business,” will feature Acting Secretary Julie Su alongside New York City Comptroller Brad Lander, representatives from Microsoft and others from the labour and business communities.
The Network’s guiding Investor Statement notes that labour rights are “fundamental pillars of human freedom,” as recognized by the United Nations (UN) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Beyond the fundamental nature of the rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, members of the Network also recognize the investor case for empowering workers. “Companies that respect labour rights reap many benefits, such as greater productivity, safer workplaces, and improved employee engagement,” according to the LRIN Investor Statement. The LRIN is housed at the Global Unions’ Committee on Workers’ Capital (CWC), a committee of the International Trade Union Confederation, the Global Union Federations and the Trade Union Advisory Committee to the OECD that advocates for the responsible investment of workers’ capital.
“With this Network, we will bring the voices of workers whose fundamental labour rights are violated to the attention of investors committed to ensuring those rights are upheld in their portfolios. This will enable those investors to improve their human rights due diligence, mitigate risks and uphold responsibilities under international norms and frameworks,” said CWC Chair Christoffer Jönsson.
Signatories to the Investor Statement request that the boards and senior management at investee companies take responsibility for labour rights oversight, ensure respect for workers’rights to freedom of association and collective bargaining, and provide disclosures on labour-related metrics.
The Labour Rights Investor Network will then provide the necessary information and tools for investor members to integrate this into their stewardship practices.
“As financial stewards responsible for the retirement savings of thousands of unionized workers, we want to ensure that the companies in which we invest our capital are in turn investing in their workforces. Ignoring fundamental workers’ rights risks eroding long-term shareholder value. The historic movement to ensure labour rights are respected has led to measurable gains for hundreds of thousands of workers. We are proud to stand boldly with the Committee on Workers’ Capital to announce this important initiative, which centres respecting labour rights as a business imperative key to mitigating systemic risks.”
— BRAD LANDER, NEW YORK CITY COMPTROLLER
“We are delighted to be an early signatory to Labour Rights Investor Network, as we see the real value it will bring to strengthening our stewardship. We expect investee companies to respect freedom of association and collective bargaining, but know far too often this fails to happen in reality. Through gaining resources and hearing insights directly from unions, we believe that the Labour Rights Investor Network will help us address the problem.”
— EMILIE WESTHOLM, HEAD OF RESPONSIBLE INVESTMENTS AND CORPORATE GOVERNANCE, FOLKSAM
“LAPFF is very pleased to support the launch of the Labour Rights Investor Network as a signatory. Over the years, the Forum has engaged with numerous companies and unions over management of workforce issues, and these topics are being raised more frequently. We have also found on issues like climate change that collaborative networking initiatives can increase the effectiveness of investors’ stewardship activity. So, the creation of a network focused on rights at work could not come at a better time.”
— COUNCILLOR DOUG MCMURDO, LAPFF CHAIRMAN