ShareAction launches $5.7trn investor alliance on public health
More than 30 investors, collectively managing more than $5.7trn of assets, have collectively launched a new alliance intended to finance the creation of “healthier, fairer” societies.
The new Long-term Investors in People’s Health initiative is being led by ShareAction, an NGO campaigning to make responsible investing the norm. Also supporting the initiative is charity The Health Foundation and philanthropic foundation the Guy’s & St Thomas’ Foundation.
The thinking behind the creation of the initiative is that health is “overlooked” when companies and investors create and implement environmental, social and governance (ESG) strategies. On the social side of things, issues which are incorporated far more often in ESG strategies include gender diversity, workplace safety and ethnic and racial diversity.
Yet, ShareAction is arguing, omitting health from ESG strategies can build up future risks for companies and investors. The organisation has pointed to previous McKinsey research revealing that poor health already costs 15% of global GDP.
Under the new initiative, ShareAction and other participants will create a list of best practice approaches for investors seeking to improve health outcomes through their choices. This list will then serve as a set of commitments with which the initiative’s members should comply.
Actions which could be taken include greater engagement between investors and food companies on nutrition or investors pushing companies to disclose more about their wages.
Signatories across the UK, America, Japan and the Netherlands have already joined the initiative, which has 35 backers as of the time of publication. Supporters include Legal & General Investment Management (LGIM), Nest, Federated Hermes and Schroders.
ShareAction chief executive Catherine Howarth said the aim of the initiative was to ensure that health is “at least as well embedded in mainstream investment practice as climate risk”.
Climate and health risk are, of course, connected. A warming climate brings an increased risk of issues such as heat stress and malnutrition. In low-income regions worst impacted, changing weather patterns will also increase the risk of food-borne, water-borne and vector-borne diseases.
The Health Foundation’s chief executive Dr Jennifer Dixon added: “Overlooking health brings clear risks to investors and businesses – not least reputational damage. Investors must seize the opportunity that improved health presents – including helping people to enjoy healthier lives, enabling companies to access a healthier job market, and ultimately strengthening their portfolios.”
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