We created the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark in 2013 with a view to use the competitive nature of markets to challenge companies to embed human rights in their organisation. 6 years on the benchmark is widely supported by companies, governments, investors and civil society. This is our update for 2019.
The Corporate Human Rights Benchmark (CHRB), founded largely through Aviva’s thought leadership and funding is a free and publicly available benchmark which ranks companies in the agriculture, apparel, and extractive sector on their human rights policy, practice and performance. We use the benchmark as a measure to identify human rights risks and guide our human rights investment strategy. In 2019 we set out to engage with targeted companies based on the 2018 CHRB results with two main objectives. Firstly, to raise awareness of the benchmark and set out investor expectations on human rights. Secondly, to influence change within targeted companies. We also updated our voting policy to vote against the boards of companies that scored poorly.
Along with investor allies, APG and Nordea, we wrote a letter to the 101 companies ranked by the benchmark. The letters either praised good performance to reinforce positive behaviour or flagged poor performance. Both iterations invited companies to have dialogue with investors on the issues highlighted. Between the ally coalition we were able to engage with nearly 50 companies on these results, mostly with positive success. Aviva Investors engaged directly with 13 companies. Of these we received responses from 10 companies and held in-depth follow up meetings with investor relations and sustainability teams of 5 companies; Anglo American, ENI, General Mills, Kraft Heinz and Tesco.
Aviva Investors also voted against 40 low scoring companies across all global regions. Votes against were filed against either the director most responsible for human rights, discharge of the board or the reports and accounts. Companies targeted ranged from Starbucks in USA, to Prada in Italy, to China Petroleum & Chemical in China.
Following engagement, ENI announced that it had settled a human rights investigation with the OECD. Kraft Heinz also published a new human rights statement. Looking ahead, the 2019 CHRB Results increased its coverage from 101 to 200 companies and included companies from the ICT sector - such as Amazon and Samsung. We will continue to engage with and vote against low scoring companies throughout 2020. We will also send letters to any company voted against in 2019 outlining our; voting policy, voting action and request improvements to human rights performance.
Note: Company names shown are for informational purposes only. This is not an offer to sell, nor a solicitation to buy, securities.