UBS Asset Management (“UBS”) is the world’s 13th largest asset manager with USD 1.1 trillion in assets under management (AUM). Of this amount, institutional investors – including pension funds – account for 59% of their global client base.
The CWC’s analysis finds that UBS’s stewardship framework makes an effort to implement a double-materiality perspective that is conducive to holding companies accountable on labour rights. We were encouraged by elements of UBS’s stewardship framework, such as the importance it places on breaches of the UN Global Compact, its policy on collaborating with other investors, its consideration of portfolio companies’ human rights due diligence processes and its reference to collective bargaining.
However, the analysis demonstrates that there are gaps between UBS’s public policies and its stewardship practice in terms of upholding fundamental labour rights in its portfolios. The report outlines key steps and case studies where the asset manager can improve its approach to engagement and proxy voting based on global trade union priorities.
- UBS’s recent engagement practices and proxy voting show increasing alignment with human rights-based frameworks relative to the prior analysis carried out in 2019.
- UBS could make significant improvements in its proxy voting practice by supporting employee representation on corporate boards
- UBS could clarify how it applies its escalation strategies when labour rights violations go unaddressed by management within a reasonable timeframe or when the company has refused to participate in remediation.
- There is no explicit mention of the ILO Declaration on Fundamental Principles and Rights at Work and the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises (MNEs) in UBS stewardship documents
The report is current up to September 2021.