As a diversified international management and holding company, we recognize the role we have to play in supporting and respecting the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights. We believe that respecting and protecting human rights is fundamental to creating long-term sustainable value.
As a matter of principle, respect for human rights has always been embedded in our responsible management philosophy as defined by our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and our CSR Statement. Building on this strong foundation of acting responsibly, we became signatories to the United Nations Global Compact, formalizing our commitment to support and respect the protection of internationally proclaimed human rights.
Upholding our commitment to respect human rights is the responsibility of our entire company. The Vice-President and General Counsel is responsible for providing oversight on our human rights commitments, as reflected in our CSR Statement.
Human rights are considered during our dealings with business partners and within our own investment analysis process, when relevant. We also collaborate with group companies to share knowledge on human rights management practices and to identify areas of opportunity.
We engage with the senior management of our group companies, both formally and informally, and as needed, to ensure a proper understanding of how their management teams are addressing human rights when questions or issues arise. In addition to being strongly committed to respecting and supporting human rights, many of our group companies are taking a leadership position on human rights management programs.
Monitoring and Review
Our progress on corporate social responsibility, including human rights, is reported annually to the Board through its Governance and Nominating Committee.
Highlights from our Group Companies
Committing to Human Rights
All Great-West Lifeco Board members and employees acknowledge, on an annual basis, their commitment to the company’s code of conduct, which includes human rights aspects. In 2017, Great-West Lifeco launched a refined code that helps employees better understand their responsibilities. Their annual communication and online training program also helps employees increase their level of knowledge about the code and its application in day-to-day business. Advisors and brokers must comply with specialized codes of conduct in all their interactions on behalf of Great-West Lifeco’s companies.
All IGM Financial employees acknowledged their commitment to the company’s code of conduct and respectful workplace policies. IGM Financial’s Corporate Responsibility (CR) statement includes human rights commitments.
Pargesa and its subsidiary Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) have both developed a CSR Statement highlighting their support and respect of internationally proclaimed human rights. Each of the Sagard Funds (Sagard Europe, Sagard Holdings, Sagard China), Power Corporation’s equity investment funds, also formalized their respective CSR statements, which include their commitment to respecting human rights.
Imerys supports human rights as defined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and requires that they are respected in its operations worldwide. To further formalize this commitment, Imerys became a signatory member of the United Nationals Global Compact (UNGC). Imerys also integrates child labor and forced labor issues into its due diligence assessment for new projects and the scope of internal auditing missions for the group’s existing activities. Protocols on prohibition of child labor and forced labor have been in place at Imerys since 2009, and are used as the basis for internal audits.
In addition, Imerys also expects its business partners and suppliers to adhere to the same high standards. Therefore, in 2016, Imerys launched its supplier ESG standards, which are mainly based on the ten principles of the UNGC. Starting from its suppliers of more than €2 million spent at the divisional level, Imerys requested formal confirmation of compliance with the standards. At the end of 2017 these standards had been communicated to over 150 suppliers, of which 70 per cent have formally acknowledged receipt and confirmed compliance with, 25 per cent have provided comparable codes of conduct and the remaining have been assessed internally as presenting very low risk of non-compliance with Imerys’ code.
IGM Financial integrates human rights considerations in the investment process through the Investors Group Summa SRI™ Fund, one of the largest socially responsible investments funds in Canada. The Fund aims to provide moderate income and long-term capital growth by making socially responsible investments primarily in the Canadian equity markets. The Fund seeks to invest mostly in companies that have adopted progressive standards and practices towards the environment, human rights and other social issues. The Fund does not invest in companies whose revenues are mainly derived from alcohol, tobacco, gambling, pornography or critical weapons systems. This approach is appropriate for clients who look for investments consistent with their financial goals and personal values. The Fund uses third-party global SRI screening services to assist with the evaluation of companies against these socially responsible criteria and to assess suitability for inclusion in the Fund’s investable universe.
In 2017, Mackenzie Investments also launched three new funds designed to generate long-term competitive returns while supporting positive environmental, social and governance change. The Mackenzie Global Sustainability and Impact Balanced Fund will provide Canadian investors with a solution that helps their investments have a positive environmental and social impact; and the Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact Fund and Mackenzie Global Leadership Impact ETF provide an opportunity to impact social and governance change through a focus on companies that promote gender diversity and the benefits of women in leadership.
The CSR Statements developed by Pargesa, GBL and each of the Sagard Funds highlight their respective commitment to incorporate ESG considerations, including human rights, into their investment analysis process and active ownership approach.
Canadian Museum for Human Rights
The Canadian Museum for Human Rights in Winnipeg, Manitoba was established by an Act of Parliament in 2008 and officially opened its doors in September 2014. The museum’s mandate is to explore the subject of human rights in order to enhance the public’s understanding of human rights, to promote respect for others, and to encourage reflection and dialogue. Power Corporation, Great-West Life, London Life and Canada Life, as well as Investors Group collectively made a significant commitment to the launch of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights.