More than 250 institutional investors managing over $8.2trn (£6.7trn) in assets have called on their investee companies to minimise the financial and societal disruption brought on by COVID-19.
The Investor Statement on Coronavirus Response outlines how the long-term viability of investee companies is “inextricably tied” to the welfare of employees, suppliers, customers and communities.
As such, it urges these companies to focus their efforts on maintaining employment, providing paid leave, preserving supplier/customer relationships, prioritising health and safety, and financial prudence.
Hymans Robertson and Boston Common Asset Management are among the signatories calling on directors and management teams to work together to prevent the worst coronavirus outcomes.
“Millions of working people will face impossible hardships as COVID-19 shuts down schools, workplaces, hourly employment, transportation and more,” the statement says.
“We also know that vulnerable communities are the most at risk as they have limited access to social safety nets and financial resources to weather this uncertain period.
“The prospect of widespread unemployment will exacerbate the crisis and pose grave risks to basic social stability and the financial markets – in the face of this global humanitarian crisis, we all benefit by coming together.”
The statement explains how companies that invest in their staff will be well-served by having retained a well-trained and committed workforce when business operations resume after the crisis.
It also urges firms to go above and beyond the recommendations, particularly if they are faring well during the pandemic.
This could involve providing childcare assistance, hazard pay, assistance in accessing government support programs, and employer-paid health insurance for laid-off workers.
“While we acknowledge many of these recommendations may be out of reach, over the last several years we have seen corporations show leadership by using their power as a force for tremendous good,” the statement says.
“This leadership is critically needed as we face COVID-19 together.”
Long-term institutional investors can sign the statement here.
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