Investors and consumers

Expectations of business conduct are changing.

Consumers and investors are demanding more transparency and holding companies to higher standards.

There’s increased visibility of companies demonstrating leadership and increased scrutiny of those that are failing to meet standards. From awards such as the Stop Slavery Award to benchmarking tools such as Know the Chain, Baptist World Aid’s Ethical Fashion Guide, Behind the Brands and the Corporate Human Rights Benchmark to name a few.

The Thomson Reuters Foundation’s Stop Slavery Award identifies businesses which have established strong policies and processes to limit the risk of slavery within their operations and supply chain. One of the stated purposes of the award is to guide consumer decisions on what goods or services to buy or use. Previous winners include Bali Process Government and Business Forum members, Thai Union and Adidas.

Australia’s Co-Chair to the Forum, Dr Andrew Forrest AO, Chairman of Fortescue Metals Group, refers to the initial workplan for the Bali Process Government and Business Forum.

INVC-contentSplit

Investors are demanding greater transparency from companies on their environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.

With ESG-rated capital exceeding $30 trillion globally, a growing number of investors are using their leverage to drive better human rights practices in supply chains. This demand complements existing legal frameworks requiring disclosures on modern slavery and human rights. Many companies must now provide detailed information on their labour practices and modern slavery risks to investors, stock exchanges and lenders.

A report by KPMG had respondents choose their top five factors considered when deciding which company to buy shares in. Results indicated that following financial returns to investors, the most important factor in deciding what company to purchase shares in is company transparency and honesty (51 per cent), with the fourth most important reason identified as ethical conduct of business (42 per cent).

Walk Free is partnering with the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) initiative to mobilise the financial sector to combat human trafficking and modern slavery in the Asia Pacific region. This work will use the Bali Process Government and Business Forum as a key platform for this engagement.

“Public expectations have never been greater… every company must show how it makes a positive contribution to society.”

Larry Fink

Blackrock

What is the purpose of a corporation? The world’s largest companies agree it’s not just about profits.

In August 2019, the Business Roundtable (BRT), a group of CEO’s representing some of the world’s largest corporations, released an updated Statement on the Purpose of a Corporation. The statement rejects the notion that the sole purpose of a corporation is to create profit for its shareholders. The statement is explicit that the purpose of a corporation includes the creation of value for customers, dealing fairly and ethically with suppliers, investing in employees and supporting communities.

The statement received support from 181 CEOs, including the leaders of major multinationals such as Amazon, Apple, Chevron, The Coca-Cola Company, Dell, Exxon, Ford, PepsiCo, Procter & Gamble, and Walmart. Notably, the group of signatories also includes the heads of large financial firms such as Bank of America, BlackRock, Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorganChase, Morgan Stanley, and Vanguard.