Safe space institutional investors and corporate sustainability leaders

Fondation Guilé has held a wide variety of dialogues on behalf of investors throughout Europe and emerging countries. As part of that experience, it witnessed a strong need for a better mutual understanding and sharing of common goals between the investors’ community and companies.

To bridge the gap, Fondation Guilé organized a high-level exchange of experiences between 3-4  major Swiss institutional investors and the same number of corporate sustainability leaders. This exchange took place in September 2016 in Bern under the Chatham House Rule.

Specifically, investors have huge yet unexploited power to influence companies in systematically reviewing and considering material sustainability issues. However, the consideration of ESG criteria in institutional investment is new for the majority of institutional investors and they are still facing a learning curve. One challenge they already foresee is the amount of non-financial/sustainability information published by the investees.

Investors therefore rely on aggregate information such as ESG related KPIs provided by specialized research and rating companies, though the reliability of this information has been questioned . They are looking for information explaining comprehensibly how a company’s sustainability interventions (will) lead to added financial value. This request has been well received by company representatives who challenge institutional investors to become more active in developing the appropriate frameworks and also in taking more risks . → summary report