Companies lacking clear leadership on SRI and corporate governance communication

Sep 30, 2013
<p>CSR team most likely to have responsibility, new research shows</p>

Although the CSR team is most likely to take the lead on SRI and corporate governance (CG) communications, companies lack a ‘clear picture of leadership’, reveals the latest Thomson Reuters Extel and SRI-Connect study.

Just over two fifths of CSR teams oversee SRI and CG messaging, reveals the 2013 Independent Research in Responsible Investment (IRRI) survey. IR follows, with 28 percent of teams taking responsibility for these areas. A further 28 percent of firms say responsibility is shared, but there is ‘no definite lead’ in this area. 

‘Bridging the gap between IR & CSR teams is the first step toward more effective and efficient SRI communications,’ according to researchers. ‘CSR managers take the lead at more companies than IR managers – but there are a lot of companies where responsibilities have not been defined. We are skeptical and suspect that ‘shared, but no definite lead’ means, No one is really responsible for this; no one has it as part of his or her annual deliverables.’

Despite the CSR team being more likely to take responsibility in this area, the researchers ‘suspect that the best ‘SRI-IR’ strategy is for IR to guide the process and for CSR and company secretarial to provide the information.’

The survey, which ran in June and July this year, received responses from 668 analysts and portfolio managers from 142 companies in 30 countries. Steve Kelly, managing director Extel at Thomson Reuters, says the ‘substantial increase in participation [in this year’s survey] is a clear signal of investor interest in sustainability research.’ 

‘The barrier of initial involvement the industry has been facing for decades appears to have been broken,’ say the researchers, noting that ‘from a research provider’s point of view, it is encouraging to see that 68 percent (61 percent for SRI) of asset managers have some interest in SRI and CG research.’

Across Europe, sell-side brokers believe the UK and France dominate demand for SRI and CG research.

The survey also sees a number of high-profile companies take home SRI and CG awards: Sustainalytics scoops three major awards, while GMI Ratings, Unilever, PGGM and F&C Asset Management also win top accolades.

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