(Pictured: Gordon Hagart)
Lobbying by the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors has helped a big improvement across a range of ESG issues in corporate Australia as the organisation’s influence has grown with international expansion. NZ Super has become ACSI’s fifth international member.
The ACSI annual report, published last week, says that the percentage of female directors on ASX 200 companies has doubled since 2010 when gender diversity became a new priority in the organisation’s work.
The report also says that termination payments made to departing executives of listed companies has plunged 70 per cent since 2010’s changes to the Corporations Act, as pushed for by ACSI, which introduced more shareholder power in remuneration policies.
Since 2009, the number of ASX 200 companies rated by ACSI as producing “high quality sustainability reporting” has doubled.
ACSI, formed in 2001, has 33 Australian fund members, with assets totaling about $400 billion. However, the five international members, which include the giant PGGM fund of the Netherlands and CalPERS of the US, take the total assets for which it speaks to over $1 trillion. NZ Super has about A$21 billion.
Gordon Hagart, ACSI chief executive, says in the report that the organisation had 140 formal engagements with ASX 300 companies during 2013-14 and issued 1,800 voting recommendations. The report notes that, increasingly, large super funds are also engaging directly with ASX-listed companies alongside ACSI’s internal staff. “We hope to increase this trend in future years,” the report says.