The Ethos Engagement Pool (EEP) International officially welcomed its 100th member last Friday with the joining of the GEMINI Collective Foundation. This shareholder dialogue program with foreign companies was launched by Ethos and six pension funds in 2016.
Ethos’ shareholder dialogue program with companies listed outside Switzerland – the Ethos Engagement Pool (EEP) International – continues to attract new members. Last Friday, the GEMINI Collective Foundation officially joined the program. With this new membership, the EEP International has now 100 members representing CHF 284 billion in assets under management.
"We are very happy to welcome the 100th member of our EEP International program", underlines Vincent Kaufmann, CEO of Ethos. "The success of our shareholder dialogue programs in Switzerland and abroad demonstrates the growing willingness of Swiss pension funds to join their efforts to increase their influence in terms of sustainability on the companies they co-own."
"The GEMINI Collective Foundation is aware that achieving a return in line with the market is not the only key to building up retirement savings and securing pensions, but that non-financial objectives such as environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are also becoming increasingly important to policyholders", explains Vital G. Stutz, Chairman of the Collective Foundation. "This is why GEMINI, together with other collective foundations and pension funds, wishes to engage the companies in which we invest. We want their ESG ratings to be good and constantly improving, thus making a significant contribution to ESG over the long term."
Launched in 2016 by Ethos and six pension funds (CIEPP, UNIA Pension Fund, CAP Prévoyance, Prosperita, Abendrot and Caisse de pensions de la fonction publique du canton de Neuchâtel), the EEP International aims to engage dialogue, on behalf of its members, with companies listed outside Switzerland to raise their awareness of ESG issues and, above all, to encourage them to improve their practices. Dialogue is carried out either directly with companies or by participating in collective engagement initiatives. The members of the pool thus benefit from an international network made up of institutional investors or groups of investors with whom Ethos has worked closely for many years, such as "Climate Action 100+" for the climate issue or the "Workforce Disclosure Initiative" for employee rights.
The themes for dialogue are decided each year by the members of the pool. Current topics discussed with companies include climate change, deforestation, respect for human and labour rights in supply chains, corporate tax responsibility, and issues of governance and shareholder rights.
The EEP International was created following the success of the EEP Switzerland program, whose dialogue activities focus on the 150 largest listed companies in Switzerland. Launched in 2004, it now has 167 members for some CHF 357 billion in assets under management.