As an 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. We also believe that it is our responsibility as an employer to offer a workplace where all people are treated with respect and dignity, in an inclusive, diverse and safe work environment.
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, our Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Statement and our Respectful Workplace Policy and Procedures. 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 and to creating and maintaining a work environment of equal opportunity characterized by mutual trust and the absence of intimidation, discrimination, oppression and exploitation.
Upholding our commitment to respect human rights is the responsibility of our entire Corporation. The Vice-President and General Counsel, our CSR Lead, is responsible for providing oversight on our human rights commitments, as reflected in our CSR Statement, whereas our Vice-President, Human Resources and Administration is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the Respectful Workplace Policy and Procedures.
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 also 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.
We provide our employees with an annual training on our Code of Business Conduct and Ethics and on our Respectful Workplace Policy and Procedures, which emphasize our commitment to provide a respectful and equitable workplace.
In addition, we extend our human rights commitment to third parties that work for/on our behalf, through our Third Party Code of Conduct.
We also support initiatives that promote human rights in our community. For example, Power Corporation supports Lawyers Without Borders Canada, a non-governmental international cooperation organization whose mission is to support the defence of the human rights of people in situations of vulnerability by strengthening access to justice and legal representation. We also contribute to Equitas, Canada’s most recognized and active human rights education organization, and support its series of Equitalks conferences that focus on addressing inequities and discrimination and work to build safer and more inclusive communities throughout the world.
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. Great-West Lifeco’s annual communication and online training program 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. IGM Financial’s Corporate Responsibility statement includes human rights commitments. In addition, all three of IGM Financial's operating companies are signatories to the United Nations Women's Empowerment Principles, which promote gender equality in the workplace, communities and marketplace.
Both Canada Life and IG Wealth Management are signatories of Winnipeg’s Indigenous Accord, committing to fostering a workplace culture in which Indigenous Peoples and all employees can contribute to their fullest potential.
The majority of Power Corporation’s other investment platforms, such as Sagard and Power Sustainable, through its platform Power Pacific, have also formalized, through a CSR statement and/or a responsible investment policy, their commitment to consider ESG factors into their investment analysis process, including human rights.
Groupe Bruxelles Lambert (GBL) has outlined its support and respect for internationally proclaimed human rights in its ESG Policy. It is also a signatory to the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) since 2018, which aligns with its overall commitment to human rights. In addition, GBL's commitment to respect human rights is further defined in its Diversity & Inclusion Policy and its Code of Ethics, which includes compliance with all applicable laws, and the group endeavours to support and respect internationally proclaimed human rights.
Also a signatory member to the UNGC, Imerys is committed to respecting internationally recognized human rights, as set out in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and the International Labour Organization’s Fundamental Conventions. As such and as outlined in its code of business conduct and ethics, Imerys requires that human rights are respected across its operations worldwide. Compliance with the code and protocols on human rights and labor practices, including preventing child labor and forced labor, is included within Imerys’ due diligence assessment for new projects and within the scope of internal auditing missions for Imerys’ existing activities. Protocols on prohibition of child labour and forced labour have been in place at Imerys since 2009.
Since 2019, Imerys has organized training and awareness raising sessions on human rights based on UN Guiding Principles in strategic countries. The purpose of these sessions is to support the identification of any potential human rights risks in specific countries or regions. While additional training sessions could not be conducted in 2020 as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, such sessions will continue in the future to progressively cover more countries and key functions.
Imerys also expects its suppliers to adhere to the same high standards. In fact, Imerys’ Supplier ESG Standards are based on its code of business conduct and ethics and its CSR charter, and have been translated in 23 languages. These standards, which must be acknowledged and complied with, are applicable to all their suppliers and form an important part of Imery’s Purchasing Policy. The assessment of ESG performance of suppliers starts during supplier qualification and onboarding. Purchasing teams are responsible for carrying out reasonable controls before considering and accepting a supplier, including in particular any supplier that may be classified as higher risk (due to a country or category-related risk classification) during the supplier onboarding process in order to make sure they are able to demonstrate compliance with Imerys’ Supplier ESG Standards. In 2020, Imerys redefined the process to qualify, screen and monitor suppliers’ ESG performance. The process will be rolled out progressively and will require all new suppliers to pass through a series of validations and third-party screening prior to being accepted as suppliers for Imerys. The new onboarding process has been designed to ensure that suppliers are aware of and commit to comply with the Imery’s ESG Standards, but also to support their own development and continuous improvement in ESG performance.
IGM Financial integrates human rights considerations throughout its investment process. The IG Mackenzie Summa SRI™ Fund, one of the largest socially responsible investments funds in Canada with approximately $373 million in assets under management, invests primarily in companies that have adopted progressive standards and practices towards the environment, human rights and other social issues and does not invest in companies whose revenues are primarily derived from alcohol, cannabis, tobacco, gambling, pornography or critical weapons systems. Third-party global SRI screening services are used to assist with the evaluation of companies against these socially responsible criteria and to assess suitability for inclusion in the Fund’s investable universe. This approach is appropriate for clients who look for investments consistent with their financial goals and personal values.
Mackenzie Investments also offers the following sustainable, responsible and impact products to provide clients with opportunities to invest in specific ESG themes or in funds that optimize social or environmental needs first.
The Mackenzie Global Sustainability and Impact Balanced Fund selects companies that are willing to engage in or have incorporated strategies aimed at improving ESG practices.
The Mackenzie Global Women's Leadership Fund and Mackenzie Global Women's Leadership ETF are aimed at driving social and governance change through a focus on companies that promote gender diversity and the benefits of women in leadership.
The Mackenzie Global Environmental Equity Fund focuses on opportunities in environmental sectors, notably in energy transition from fossil-fuels to renewable power.
The ESG Policy developed by GBL, made public in March 2021, as well as the CSR statements or responsible investment policies published by the majority of Power Corporation's investment platforms, such as Sagard and Power Sustainable, through its platform Power Pacific, highlight their respective commitment to incorporate ESG considerations, including human rights, into their investment analysis process and active ownership approach.
National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation
The National Centre for Truth and Reconciliation (NCTR) was created in 2015 upon the completion of the Truth and Reconciliation Commissions of Canada’s mandate to document and inform all Canadians on the truth of what happened in residential schools across Canada. The NCTR educates Canadians on the profound injustices inflicted on First Nations, Inuit and the Métis by the forced removal of children to attend residential school and the widespread abuse suffered in those schools. It preserves the record of these human rights abuses and promotes continued research and learning on the legacy of residential schools with the goal of honouring survivors and fostering reconciliation and healing on the foundation of truth telling. In 2021, Power Corporation and IG Wealth Management formed a partnership with the NCTR in support of Imagine a Canada, a national art and leadership program that inspires youth for reconciliation.