Mixed questioned create mixed messages

Transparency is usually a good thing, but ShareAction has found that if you ask too often people are reluctant to answer.

Only 21 companies of the world’s 100 largest firms have responded to calls for more workforce data – a request aimed at improving the quality of jobs worldwide and helping to tackle inequality and poverty.

Coordinated by responsible investment group ShareAction, a coalition of more than 120 investors managing over $13tr – including Amundi, AXA IM, LGIM, M&G Investments, RPMI Railpen, Quantum Advisors, Sunsuper, and UBS Asset Management – asked listed companies to disclose information about how they manage risks and harness opportunities in their direct workforce and supply chains.

The issue seems to be that many leading companies, including Apple, BP, China Mobile, Fresnillo, Glencore, Tesco and Walmart, feel they are already reporting openly via their own reporting methods.

Both ‘sides’ have a point – for ShareAction an independent and standardised reporting makes comparisons possible, for some respondents the questions are likely to result in simplistic reporting that will not match their efforts. The recent misunderstanding/misreporting – particularly in the mainstream media – or ‘pay gaps’ must also make several companies cautious of attempting to engage in such frameworks. Perhaps there are no easy answers.

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