A coalition of 29 asset owners, institutional investors and stewardship service providers representing $7 trillion in assets, has written to the CEOs of 100 of the UK’s largest listed companies, urging them to take immediate and concerted steps to develop and implement effective management systems and processes on workplace mental health.
The coalition has been convened by leading responsible investment manager, CCLA, and comprises the founding signatories to the CCLA-led Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health, launched in May this year. It includes some of the most influential names in the responsible investment movement such as Brunel Pensions Partnership, Nomura Asset Management and Federated Hermes Limited.
The letters are directed at the companies in the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – UK 100, launched in May this year to provide a reliable tool for investors to understand and compare corporate practice on mental health.
The signatories call on company CEOs to ensure that they optimise their organisation’s performance by eliminating avoidable costs associated with mental ill-health and taking concerted efforts to create the working conditions under which every individual can thrive.
Specifically, the coalition urges companies to:
- Acknowledge workplace mental health as an important issue for the business and for its employees.
- Signal board and senior management commitment to promoting mental health in the workplace, to recognize the link between mental health and ‘good work’ principles, and to encourage a culture of openness on mental health.
- Publish a commitment to workplace mental health in a policy statement (or equivalent) together with a description of the scope of this commitment and of the governance and management processes in place to ensure the policy is effectively implemented and monitored.
- Set objectives and targets to improve workplace mental health.
- Report annually on progress against the company’s mental health policy and objectives.
CCLA started to examine the subject of emotional wellbeing and mental illness at its investee companies in 2019. The most recent research on mental health and employers by Deloitte highlights the scale of poor mental health within the UK workforce.
It estimates that the total annual cost of poor mental health to the private sector in the UK was £43–46 billion in 2020–21, an increase of 25% since pre-pandemic estimates in 2019. However, the report also found the returns on investment of workplace mental health interventions to be much more positive – estimated at £5.30 for every pound invested in 2020-21
Amy Browne, Stewardship Lead at CCLA and architect of the Global Investor Statement on Corporate Mental Health, said: “Creating a workplace that does no harm to the mental or physical health of workers is not only a moral necessity but also a financial imperative. According to Deloitte, in 2021 employers saw an average return of £5.30 for every £1 invested in mental health interventions. In creating a positive environment for workplace mental health, companies will boost their ability to retain skilled employees, increase their productivity and reduce their financial outgoings.
Investors have a role to play as catalysts for positive change. 29 founding signatories have stepped forward to start that change in motion. We are certain that collectively we have the opportunity to improve the lives of millions of employees worldwide.”
She continued: “Our research shows that while mental health initiatives are plentiful, there is a clear lack of commitment by many senior leaders and that strategic planning on mental health is rare. We are certain that giving workplace mental health the attention it deserves offers benefits for individuals and firms, and, by extension for the wider economy and society.”
The sister benchmark to the UK 100, the Global 100, is expected to launch in October 2022. Assessments for the 2023 UK 100 Benchmark will begin in March 2023