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Mar 15, 2023

Companies quizzed on environment and employment rights, survey finds

Smaller companies less likely to field questions on environmental approach

Investors are focusing on the environment and employment rights in their engagement with companies over socio-political issues, according to Corporate Secretary sister publication IR Magazine’s Corporate Social Activism report.

The research, which polled 768 investor relations professionals, finds that just over half of respondents (52 percent) say they have received questions from investors on environmental attitudes in the last five years.

Small fern tree

Photo: Matthew Smith

Looking at the results by region, 60 percent of Europe-based IROs say they have been quizzed on their company’s approach to the environment, compared with 53 percent in Asia and just 41 percent in North America.

Smaller companies are less likely to field questions on the environment: just 43 percent of small caps say they have received such questions, compared with higher percentages at mid-caps (56 percent), large caps (59 percent) and mega-caps (57 percent).


The next-most popular socio-political topic for investor questions is employment rights, which has jumped up the agenda over the last year as soaring inflation and rising interest rates have caused a cost-of-living crisis in many countries.

Investors are also increasingly interested in how companies are engaging with unions, a topic that came up at the ESG Integration Forum, hosted by Corporate Secretary and IR Magazine earlier this month.

In the new research, 28 percent of respondents say investors have asked about employment rights over the last five years. European companies are again those most likely to have fielded questions on this subject.

The third-most popular socio-political issue is the occupation of territories or displacement of people (cited by 22 percent of IROs), followed by women’s rights (21 percent) and racial or ethnic discrimination (16 percent).

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