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Rathbones Clinches PRI’s ‘Stewardship Initiative of the Year’

UK-based investment manager Rathbones has been awarded ‘Stewardship Initiative of the Year’ at the 2022 Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI) awards. Matt Crossman, Rathbones’ Stewardship Director, said: “We are honoured and humbled to receive this award in recognition of a great deal of incredible work involved in this important project.” The firm’s Votes Against Slavery campaign, coordinated by the PRI Collaboration Platform and led by Rathbones’ stewardship team, targeted FTSE 350 companies that failed to comply with Section 54 of the 2015 Modern Slavery Act. Section 54 requires large UK-based companies to report on how they identify and eliminate modern slavery within their supply chains; under this legal requirement, however, there is no legal redress for companies that fail to comply. The initiative was supported by 122 asset managers, pension funds and institutional investors collectively managing £9.6 trillion in assets. Letters were sent to the boards of targeted non-compliant companies, with investors supporting the initiative indicating they would be willing to abstain from voting on the approval of companies’ annual reports and accounts if companies failed to take action. Thirty-eight out of 44 targeted companies are now compliant with Section 54. Archie Pearson, ESG and Stewardship Analyst and Voting Lead at Rathbones, said: “We are only scratching the surface of the pervasive problem of forced labour. It is our hope that the success of Votes Against Slavery can drive a step-change in company attitudes to human rights due diligence and supply chain reporting. Investors are now stepping up to play their role; we expect companies to go further and faster in their fight against slavery.”

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