ETHOS' GOVERNANCE

Ethos, Swiss Foundation for Sustainable Development, is composed of 222 Swiss pension funds and other tax-exempt institutions. Ethos was founded in 1997 and aims at promoting socially responsible investment (SRI) as well as a stable and prosperous socio-economic environment that safeguards the interests of civil society today and in the future. The Ethos Foundation is a foundation under Swiss law. The highest governing body of the Ethos Foundation is the foundation board. The members’ general meeting issues recommendations to the foundation board, in particular regarding the charter and the articles of association.

To achieve its objectives, Ethos created the company Ethos Services. This company is specialised in the field of socially responsible investment (SRI) and mainly focuses on institutional investors. Ethos Services is owned by the Ethos Foundation and 17 of its members. The general meeting elects the board of directors. The board of directors appoints the members of the executive board. Ethos Services currently employs about 20 persons and has offices in Geneva and Zurich.

The association Ethos Académie allows private individuals to take part in the activities of Ethos. This non-profit and tax-exempt organisation was launched in 2012 by the Ethos Foundation and has currently about 200 members. It conducts outreach activities aimed at raising public awareness in the field of socially responsible investment. The association’s board is composed of five members. Two board members are appointed by the Ethos Foundation and three members are elected by the general meeting of the association’s members.

Ethos’ philosophy

Independence. Both the Ethos Foundation and the company Ethos Services are exclusively financed by investors.

Professionalism. Ethos has 19 years of experience in socially responsible investment and active shareownership and can count on a team of well-qualified and experienced analysts. Dialogue with issuers is conducted throughout the year and provides an in-depth knowledge of Swiss companies.

Transparency. The annual report and accounts of the Ethos Foundation, Ethos Services and Ethos Académie are publicly available. Ethos also publishes its voting guidelines and voting recommendations (48 hours prior to the shareholder meetings) on its website. 

Ethos is a signatory of

Principles for Responsible Investment PRI

The "Principles for Responsible Investment PRI" have been elaborated by an international group of institutional investors in order to meet increasing concerns of environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues for investment decision-making.

This process was initiated by the ex-Secretary General of the United Nations Organisation, Kofi Annan. Ethos’ support for these principles is a matter of course insofar as its Charter of 1997 has already largely integrated the principles formulated in 2006. In fact, the Charter stipulates that the Foundation shall integrate environmental and social factors into its investment policy in order to promote sustainable development. Ethos signed the PRI in 2006.

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Montréal Carbon Pledge

Ethos is a signatory of the Montréal Carbon Pledge.

By signing the Montréal Carbon Pledge, investors acknowledge that their investments are exposed to long-term risks linked to greenhouse gas emissions and to climate change. The signatories of the Montréal Carbon Pledge commit to measure and publicly disclose the carbon footprint of their investment portfolios on an annual basis. In this context, Ethos communicates the carbon emissions of all its equity portfolios.

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UK Stewardship Code

Since 2011 Ethos adheres to the regulations of the UK Stewardship Code. The UK Stewardship Code is a best practice code for institutional investors, asset managers and consultants established by the UK independent regulator the Financial Reporting Council.

The code sets out good practice on engagement with investee companies to which institutional investors should aspire. It contains seven principles that should apply in regard to stewardship activities. The principles include the exercise of shareowner voting rights in investee companies. Institutional investors should establish clear guidelines, not only with regard to the vote, but also relative to their engagement activities and collaboration with other investors. They should also specify when and how they escalate their activities in order to protect and enhance shareholder value.

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ASIP Charter

Ethos is a signatory of the Charter of the Swiss Association of Pension Funds (ASIP).

Guidelines for institutional investors

Ethos adheres to the “Guidelines for institutional investors governing the exercising of participation rights in public limited companies”.

These Guidelines describe best practices relating to the exercising of participation rights. These Guidelines describe best practices relating to the exercising of participation rights. The Guidelines were presented on January 21, 2013 in Zurich by representatives of the Swiss businesses, institutional investors and proxy advisors. Ethos participated in the drafting of these principles.

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