No to racism: Etica Funds has signed a statement pledging solidarity and a call to action.
The story of George Floyd in Minnesota and his last words, “I can’t breathe,” filmed on a mobile phone, made headlines the world over and turned the spotlight back on racism. Like all problems never really solved, the spark has set off an explosive reaction, with demonstrations taking place in all US cities. Protests have since spread across Europe and the rest of the world.
What the statement says: a commitment to fighting racism
The importance of the issue has prompted Racial Justice Investing (RJI), a coalition of investors committed to justice and tackling racism, to develop a statement signed by responsible investors. The statement is sponsored by the ICCR (a network to which Etica Funds belongs and which is one of the current endorsers) and aims to recognise the presence of systemic racism and identify the responsibility of the investor community.
It also identifies specific possible strategies that investors can implement to tackle this social scourge:
- Active engagement to amplify, involve and include the views of ethnic minorities in investments and businesses, taking our lead from their expertise and experiences, including on issues related to criminalisation.
- Commitment to integrate ethnic-minority justice and fairness objectives into our own companies.
- Commitment to integrate ethnic-minority justice into investment decisions and engagement strategies.
- Invest in the communities where ethnic minorities live.
- Use investors’ voices to promote an anti-racist public policy.
Etica’s rejection of racism
“We have always been committed to dismantling racism and promoting fairness and justice through the investments of our ethical funds. Our mission is, in our own small way, to help solve global problems effectively. That is why we are committed to denouncing racist tactics, brutality and criminalisation of men, women and children from minorities. It is possible to invest for our future and for the future of the planet.”
Ugo Biggeri, Chairman of Etica Funds
“We are an asset management company that, as a responsible investor, works to achieve sustainable development balanced between the environment and social aspects, capable of avoiding specific injustices and pursuing global objectives. In particular, I can say that through its activity, Etica adheres to the framework of the Constitution of the Italian Republic, specifically Article 3: to promote equality of persons without distinction and help to effectively remove some economic and social obstacles that limit or may limit equality between citizens. We do this through engagement with the funds’ investee companies”.
Luca Mattiazzi, Direttore Generale di Etica Funds
 All citizens possess an equal social status and are equal before the law, without distinction as to sex, race, language, religion, political opinions, and personal or social conditions. It is the duty of the Republic to remove all economic and social obstacles which, by limiting the freedom and equality of citizens, prevent the full development of the individual and the participation of all workers in the political, economic, and social organisation of the country.
Etica’s commitment to human rights and managing inequalities
Fighting racism is consistent with Etica’s engagement on Human Rights and, indirectly, with the discussion topic introduced this year relating to Management of Inequalities, which will be supplemented with an ad hoc question in our dialogue activities with the funds’ investee companies.
Etica engages in dialogue with companies on the following Human Rights issues, among others (and votes in favour of any related shareholder motions):
- adopting, at the highest levels of the company, a declaration of intent for the respect for human and minority rights, which is made public within and outside the company and which translates into integrated policies and operating procedures;
- adopting the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights and implementing due diligence measures commensurate with the context of the activities and the severity of the risk of negative impacts on human rights;
- implementing appropriate mechanisms and measures aimed at identifying, preventing and correcting actual and potential negative impacts arising from a company’s operations and its relations with commercial partners;
- implementing due diligence measures on human rights commensurate with the size, nature and context of the activities and the severity of the risk of negative impacts on human rights;
- providing more information on specific human rights disputes;
- obtaining certifications for the proper management and monitoring of human rights (e.g. SA8000).
Equal opportunities in the treatment of employees regardless of gender, religion or ethnicity are a key theme. Etica engages in dialogue on the following issues, among others (and votes in favour of any related shareholder motions):
- reporting on the policies implemented to promote equal opportunities;
- publishing the percentage of employees with disabilities or belonging to ethnic, religious or gender minorities, and information about any programmes to facilitate the recruitment of such persons;
- reporting on programmes to increase the number of disabled, female or ethnic- or religious-minority managers;
- publishing a report on any equal opportunity disputes;
- promoting studies on the internal wage system to ensure that women and members of minorities in general (e.g. ethnic and religious minorities) are paid the same as other workers performing the same role and providing the same quantity and quality of work.
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