The members of the Ethos shareholder dialogue program held their annual general meeting on Thursday. They validated the dialogue topics with the main listed companies in Switzerland for the next year, including digital corporate responsibility which was accepted as a new topic.

The members of the shareholder dialogue program with Swiss companies, the Ethos Engagement Pool Switzerland (EEP Switzerland), unanimously approved the engagement topics for the 2021 year on Thursday.

The main topics are climate change (climate change strategy, transparency and publication of CO2 emissions, setting reduction targets compatible with the Paris Agreement), compliance with good practices in corporate governance (composition of the board of directors, remuneration, business ethics), working conditions and respect for human rights (particularly within supply chains), and social and environmental reporting (publication of a sustainability report certified by an external auditor and including environmental and social indicators over several years). A new topic has also been introduced and validated following the recent publication of an Engagement Paper by Ethos on the subject of Corporate Digital Responsibility.

These environmental, social and governance (ESG) topics will be systematically addressed during discussions that Ethos continually conducts with the 150 largest listed companies in Switzerland. In 2021, Ethos will also focus on the necessary diversity of governing bodies, especially given that today only 45 of the 215 SPI companies have more than 30% of women on their boards of directors.

The EEP Switzerland currently has 151 members with total assets of almost CHF 267 billion, of which around CHF 30.6 billion is held in Swiss equities (or 2% of the Swiss market capitalisation). "This size, as well as the systematic exercise of voting rights, allows us to have significant leverage to promote ESG topics with Swiss listed companies, says Vincent Kaufmann, director of Ethos. Today, all listed companies are faced with issues of governance as well as environmental and social responsibility."