World Mental Health Day: CCLA IM announces the launch of the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100

by | Oct 10, 2022

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Today is World Mental Health Day and therefore it’s particularly appropriate to reveal news that CCLA Investment Management has announced the launch of the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100. The new investor benchmark evaluates how 100 of the world’s largest listed companies are approaching and managing workplace mental health.

The benchmark aims to serve as an important engagement tool and accountability mechanism for responsible investors, and to help companies create conditions in which employees can thrive.

Initial findings reveal a disconnect between corporate recognition of workplace mental health as an important business issue and formalised public commitments and disclosure. While nine in 10 companies recognise workplace mental health as an important business concern, less than half (49%) have formalised these commitments in a policy. Elsewhere, just 15% of companies have published objectives or targets for mental health, and only 19% have assigned day-to-day operational responsibility for implementing their mental health policies.

Particularly relevant during the cost-of-living crisis is the relationship between good mental health and fair pay and financial wellbeing. While 82% of companies have taken a clear position, less than a third of them (28%) have published a formal policy that expressly recognises the link between the two.

At a boardroom level, public CEO leadership is lacking. While almost one-third (28%) of companies assessed have a clearly stated position on promoting a culture of openness on mental health, only 19% of company CEOs have publicly signalled their leadership commitment.

According to the Global Health Data Exchange, an estimated 15% of the world’s working population experiences a mental disorder at any given time[i], while the World Health Organisation reports that for every US$1 put into scaled-up treatment for common mental disorders, there is a return of US$4 in improved health and productivity[ii]. For companies, investors and society, this data represents both significant risk and opportunity.

Amy BROWNE Stewardship Lead, CCLA, said: “There is clear evidence to show that improving the mental health of an organisation saves money and that the financial ramifications of failing to improve corporate mental health are profound. According to a study by Deloitte, mental ill health in the workplace costs employers annually an average of US$1,900 per private sector employee.[iii] [iv] If we consider that the 100 companies in the CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark Global 100 employ almost 19 million people worldwide, between them, that translates to US$ 36 billion lost, each year, to mental ill-health.”

“There may be no shortage of mental health initiatives in the international workplace, but when it comes to integrating mental health into formal management systems and processes, most global companies have much further to go. Our message to global companies is this: promoting and investing in the mental health of your workers is both a moral and an economic imperative. By directing resources thoughtfully, not only will you improve the quality of your people’s lives, but you will also build a workforce that is more productive, more resilient and more profitable.”

David ATKIN, CEO, Principles for Responsible Investment, added: “Companies have made positive steps forward when it comes to protecting their workers, but this benchmark shows that mental health is still a relatively immature business issue. As such, investors should call on companies to signal their board and senior management commitments to promoting mental health at work and to recognise the link between mental health and the principles of ‘good work’, which include issues such as diversity, flexible working and financial well-being. 

This CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark Global 100 report represents a vital tool for investors to engage with companies on a critical aspect of protecting workers. I look forward to seeing how companies respond to increased scrutiny of workplace mental health by institutional investors and, over time, I hope that more companies will be able to realise the business and wider societal benefits from creating the conditions in which all their workers can thrive.” 

Shekhar SAXENA, Professor of the Practice of Global Mental Health and Population, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, and member of the CCLA Expert Advisory Panel on Mental Health, concluded: “Mental health is a universally relevant topic which is deeply interconnected with all aspects of our daily life including at work. Global organisations have the responsibility to promote mental health by fostering a workplace community in which every individual can thrive. This benchmark is a catalyst for investor and company action and an exciting and necessary step in motivating companies to improve their practices on mental health for the benefit of all.” 

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