Apr 18, 2018

CUPE BC pension forum explains ESGs

VANCOUVER – Delegates attending the CUPE BC pension forum learned about Environmental, Social and Governance Investing (ESGs) through a panel presentation followed by a Q&A. Sarah Bjorknas, chair of the CUPE BC Pension Committee, introduced panelists and emceed the event.

Panelist Harpinder Sandhu, a BC Pension Plan trustee and CUPE 1767 (BC Assessment) vice president, gave an overview of ESG, explaining that responsible investment allows for better management of risks to generate sustainable returns.

Panelist Jennifer Coulson oversees ESG of the Public Markets Division at British Columbia Investment Management Corporation (BCI). She focused on climate change, calling it the top environmental issue for investors around the world.

Shannon Rohan is a director of Responsible Investment Leadership with SHARE, a not for profit, unionized company that mobilizes investors to contribute to more sustainable economies. In discussing some of the social issues investors are addressing, Rohan said that mobilizing investors to contribute to a more sustainable economy means addressing issues like precarious work, climate change and reconciliation with Indigenous peoples. She shared case studies including the BP Gulf Oil Explosion, which cost the company an estimated $65 billion.

The final panelist, pension finance and investment expert Don Wishart, spoke on socially-responsible investing. He addressed the importance of diversity, the inclusion of women on company board of directors, and the dangers of having the same person as CEO and chair of the board—a common practice in North America. Wishart said that today’s CEOs earn 400 times what the lowest-level manager of a company earns.

During the Q&A session, one delegate expressed concern that 75 per cent of our pension income comes from investments. Wishart replied that we should be pleased about that fact: relying on investment returns keeps workers’ contributions lower, he said.

More information on pensions is available at the exhibitor booths.

COPE 491