Global Benchmark on workplace mental health suggests CEO leadership integral to healthy workplaces

by | Oct 10, 2023

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London, World Mental Health Day, 10 October 2023: The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark, the world’s only global investor benchmark of company performance on workplace mental health, has published its second annual report today. 

With an estimated 12 billion working days lost globally each year to depression and anxiety alone at an annual cost of US$1 trillion in lost productivity, mental ill-health has become a material financial issue for investors.

This year’s Benchmark, covering 110 of the world’s largest listed companies, found a continued lack of CEO advocacy on mental health. Just 17% (19) companies – equivalent to 2022 findings – published evidence of a CEO statement promoting workplace mental health. Y

 
 

et, the analysis suggests that the average benchmark score for companies that have a published CEO statement on mental health is 75% higher than for those that have not. While this finding does not prove a causal effect, it suggests a correlation between CEO leadership on workplace mental health and overall good corporate management of the issue. 

One in five companies climb the Benchmark as mental health continues to be universally accepted as an important business concern.

The low rate of CEO advocacy contrasts with the almost universal recognition by 95% of companies in the Benchmark of mental health as an important business concern (from 90% in 2022). Elsewhere, 19 companies – representing a combined workforce of six million people – have moved up at least one performance tier since last year. Of these companies, three – Roche HoldingToronto-Dominion Bank, and TotalEnergies – have improved sufficiently to move up two tiers. 

 

Continued investment in mental health support, yet line managers remain ill-equipped to manage workplace mental health issues.

Despite 78% of companies providing multiple mental health services and support channels and 60% investing in awareness raising initiatives, a surprisingly low number of companies (only 22%) report on the provision of mental health training to line managers. 

Amy BROWNE Stewardship Lead, CCLA, said: “The economic case for investment in mental health at work is clear. Research shows that for every US$1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety in the workplace, there is a US$4 return in better health and productivity.[ii]  The way in which businesses respond should be a serious commercial consideration for companies and investors alike. 

 

The results suggest that most companies now dedicate resources aimed at dealing with the symptoms of ill-health. Few, however, are taking preventative action by ensuring managers are trained in the provision of healthy work environments. In a similar vein, only 25% of companies make the link between good mental health and the good work principle of fair pay and financial wellbeing.”

“While there have been notable and encouraging improvements, there is still significant work to be done to enable workers at the world’s largest employers to thrive,” continued Amy Browne.

As an investor engagement tool it is encouraging to note that 37 global companies in the Benchmark have engaged directly with CCLA over the past year, via meetings or written communication, seeking advice or guidance on how to implement the Benchmark recommendations.

 

The Benchmark is supported by 48 investor signatories to the Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health, representing US$8.7 trillion in assets under management.

Will POMROYHead of Impact Engagement – Equities, Federated Hermes Limited (a signatory to the Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health), said: “Given many of us spend more time at work with our colleagues than we do at home with our friends and families, the responsibility on employers to safeguard and promote their employees’ mental wellbeing, as well as their physical and financial wellbeing is self-evident. Beyond being the right thing to do in and of itself, there is also a clear self-interest. Those companies that invest in their employees and provide decent work, benefit financially from higher productivity, lower turnover and higher levels of customer satisfaction. This research is helpful in shining a spotlight on the topic and encouraging better practice.”

Peter HUGH SMITH, Chief Executive, CCLA, said: “Company leaders have a responsibility to develop a culture in which all workers can thrive. It is no surprise that in organisations where chief executives have publicly acknowledged the importance of good mental health, there has, for the most part, been greater progress.

 

As investors, we call upon companies to not just recognise their moral responsibilities as an employer but to accelerate their efforts to turn their policies into action and to take the necessary steps to unlock economic value by creating conditions under which their employees can thrive.”

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark was created to bring company and investor attention to the compelling economic case for investment in mental health at work as a sustainable investment issue.  It evaluates how 110 of the world’s largest listed companies are approaching and managing workplace mental health based on the strength of their management commitments and public reporting.  Companies are then ranked across five tiers based on their overall scores. 

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark Global 100+ is the sister benchmark to the UK 100 Benchmark, published in June 2023. Both benchmarks are independently conducted by Chronos Sustainability, the technical sustainability partner to CCLA. 

 

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