Ethical Performance
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insurance giant asks ethical questions

July 2000

Co-operative Insurance Society (CIS) has sent questionnaires to 200 UK companies in which it invests, asking for information on their social, environmental and ethical performance.

The ‘social responsibility survey’ has been sent out as part of CIS’s Social Accountability Programme, adopted last year, which commits the company ‘to take a more proactive role in its capacity as an institutional shareholder’ on these issues.

CIS chief investment manager Chris Hirst, who manages more than £14billion of UK equities, said the questionnaire responses would help ‘establish a basis for our new approach’ and ‘may affect CIS’s voting decisions’. Analysis of the results will take place over the next few weeks.

The survey asks respondents questions such as, ‘does your company have an individual responsible for social responsibility issues?’, and ‘do you have a specific strategy for enhancing your company’s social responsibility performance?’ It also asks senior managers, among other things, to say whether:

the company has an ethics code

it has fair trade initiatives

it has guidelines on equal opportunities

it has codes of conduct for suppliers.

Companies are told: ‘The information gathered will be used to benchmark investments in order to establish what can be regarded as best practice. When combined with an assessment of your company’s financial prospects and corporate governance compliance, an overall picture of your company will emerge, which will determine our future investment decisions.’




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