Mental health, ESG and active stewardship

May is Mental Health Awareness Month, a time when we acknowledge the importance of mental health and wellness in our lives. A fitting time, then, to explore the relationship between mental health, environmental, social, and governance (ESG) factors, and the role that active stewardship plays for asset managers and stewardship teams in addressing this crucial aspect of human wellbeing.

Mental health as a social factor in ESG

Mental health is gaining recognition as an important part of the ‘S’ in ESG, with investors increasingly understanding the value of addressing mental health issues in their investment decisions. When companies prioritise the mental wellbeing of their employees, they demonstrate a commitment to fostering a positive work environment, which in turn can improve productivity, employee satisfaction, and reduce turnover rates.

Moreover, companies that emphasise mental health are likely to be more resilient in times of stress and uncertainty, as their employees are better equipped to cope with challenges. In this sense, mental health is not only a social issue but also a material factor in assessing the sustainability and long-term prospects of a company.

The role of active stewardship

Asset managers and stewardship teams play an important role in promoting mental health as an integral part of ESG strategies. Through active stewardship, they can encourage companies to prioritise mental health in their corporate policies and practices. Some of the ways that asset managers and stewardship teams can advance mental health include:

  1. Engaging with companies: Hold dialogues with company management to discuss mental health policies and practices, stress the importance of mental health as a material factor, and provide recommendations for improvement.
  2. Voting and proxy voting: Use voting rights to support shareholder resolutions that promote mental health initiatives and encourage transparency on mental health policies.
  3. Research and analysis: Incorporate mental health metrics into ESG research and analysis, ensuring that investment decisions consider the mental wellbeing of employees as a factor.
  4. Collaboration and partnerships: Join forces with other investors and industry groups to promote mental health as an important aspect of ESG, share best practices, and influence policy at the industry level.
  5. Reporting and disclosure: Encourage companies to report on their mental health policies, initiatives, and progress, enabling investors to make better-informed decisions.
The benefits of addressing mental health in ESG

By actively promoting mental health as a vital part of ESG, asset managers and stewardship teams can contribute to a more sustainable and resilient global economy. The benefits of integrating mental health into ESG strategies include:

  1. Enhanced risk management: Addressing mental health can help companies identify and mitigate risks related to employee wellbeing, productivity, and turnover.
  2. Improved brand reputation: Companies that prioritise mental health can improve their brand reputation, attracting talent and customers who value social responsibility.
  3. Greater employee engagement: Fostering a positive work environment that supports mental health can lead to increased employee engagement, satisfaction, and productivity.
  4. Competitive advantage: Emphasising mental health can set companies apart from their competitors, potentially resulting in higher market valuations.
  5. Long-term value creation: By promoting mental health, companies can contribute to the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and create long-term value for all stakeholders.

As we observe Mental Health Awareness Month, it’s crucial to recognise the interconnection between mental health, ESG, and active stewardship. Asset managers and stewardship teams have a significant role to play in elevating mental health as a key component of ESG strategies, promoting better corporate practices, and fostering a more sustainable global economy. By doing so, we can create a future where mental wellbeing is not only acknowledged but actively nurtured within the workplace, leading to healthier, more resilient companies and societies. As asset managers and stewardship teams continue to advance mental health initiatives within ESG frameworks, they contribute to a world that recognises the importance of mental wellbeing for all.

Get in touch to find out how SI Engage will monitor progress in integrating mental health into ESG strategies across your portfolio, ensuring a data-driven approach that contributes to a more sustainable and resilient global economy.

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