Christ Church Governing Body has adopted a policy of Responsible Ownership. This allows investment in all legal activities; but it places on us an obligation to act as owners, taking account of our time horizon, and engaging with companies on their governance, and their sustainability (environmental sustainability being just one aspect). Our investments are not just shares; they are underlying companies.
What does Responsible Ownership involve?
- Always voting at company AGMs; and voting against unacceptable practices where possible;
- Collaborating with other shareholders to engage with companies on controversial issues or to encourage change. Few shareholders, even the largest in the world, like the Norwegian Sovereign Fund, are now big enough to make a difference acting alone when engaging with the world’s biggest companies.
- Focusing on companies’ plans to survive in the long run, through anticipation of change and reinvestment of profits and training of staff;
- Ensuring that the governance is as good as it can be, with high quality executives and non-executives. Good practice should involve demonstrable diversity of thinking on a board;
- Engaging with companies on pay policies. We want companies to minimise the cost of highly talented individuals; to ensure that there is sufficient alignment of interests between executives and shareholders; and that there is fairness between genders. (This list is not exhaustive.);
- We will not invest in cluster munition or land mine manufacturers, or firms deriving their profits from coal tar sands extraction;
- If engagement fails, or if the company is resistant to change, there is always the option of selling shares and moving capital.
Since Christ Church no longer owns equities directly, our policy will be applied by engaging with our external managers to ensure that they share these principles and have procedures in place to be able to implement them. This is a process rather than a one-off exercise. We recognise that there is much to do to encourage the exercise of the responsibilities of ownership.