Wespath Benefits and Investments joined the FAIRR Initiative in 2022. This case study explains how the team has utilised FAIRR membership for stewardship activities, focusing on Wespath's involvement as a signatory to the Working Conditions Engagements. Lucas Schoeppner, Manager of Sustainable Investment Stewardship at Wespath Benefits and Investments, provided insights for this case study. Insights for this case study were provided by Lucas Schoeppner, Manager of Sustainable Investment Stewardship at Wespath Benefits and Investments.
In your experience, what has been the value of being part of the collaborative Working Conditions Engagement?
"FAIRR’s Working Conditions Engagement shows the need for continued company and investor action on human capital risk in the food and agriculture business. It also underscores the importance of supporting a more sustainable global economy. At Wespath, we articulate our vision for a sustainable economy with our Sustainable Economy Framework, which aspires to long-term prosperity for all, among other things. Of course, good working conditions and high-quality jobs are a crucial step in creating prosperity, so we value the opportunity to work collaboratively with FAIRR and our fellow signatories on these issues.
In working with FAIRR, Wespath has also developed a greater understanding of human capital risks. Working conditions are universal. They are important across industries and they are a concern that resonates with many people. Working conditions are also material. It’s difficult to successfully run a company and deliver returns to shareholders if you can’t find enough motivated and productive employees. Participating in the Working Conditions Engagement helped inform our perspectives here, which in turn enhances our ability to support a more sustainable economy overall."
How has your understanding of protein supply chain social risks developed since joining the Working Conditions Engagement?
"Wespath benefits from collaborating with a sector expert, like FAIRR, to better understand the nuances of a complex system and help us identify specific financial risks to investors.
FAIRR’s research, and our experiences in the Working Conditions Engagement, make it clear that poor and unsafe working conditions present a major operational and reputational risk to companies and investors within the animal farming sector. The engagement and subsequent progress report also helped identify what best practice looks like for the sector, which supports investors like us with other engagements and encourages companies to improve their practices. FAIRR excels at its role in the investor engagement ecosystem."
How has FAIRR's research and data helped inform Wespath's stewardship or ESG integration practices?
"Through their foundational research, FAIRR identifies specific risks associated with the food sector and develops robust methodologies and frameworks to assess companies and support company dialogues. FAIRR produces a wealth of materials from each engagement phase, company assessments and progress reports highlighting industry trends, improvement areas, and best practice examples. All of this is well-packaged and easy to understand, which helps an investor who is new to the engagement topic understand complex, nuanced issues. These resources add to our understanding of key systemic issues, ultimately improving our ability to engage on these issues going forward."
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