How Do We Decide Whether or Not to Invest in a Company?

As an ethical superannuation fund, we consider a number of non-financial factors before we decide whether or not to invest in a company, not just the expected financial return. Ideally, every aspect of every company we invest in would be aligned to our values. In reality, our investment team spend time researching and discussing these non-financial factors, and do their best to make ethical investment choices within an imperfect world.

To help us navigate this reality, we use four main strategies to manage our investment portfolio:

1. Positive screening – investing in companies that have good environmental, social and governance (ESG) practises and policies in place.

2. Negative screening – excluding companies that fail our minimum ethical standards. This may be due to their involvement in certain industries which we consider harmful (e.g. tobacco, gambling, weapons) or because of particular behaviours or incidents that we consider to be significant ethical violations (e.g. human rights abuses, environmental destruction).

3. Active ownership – trying to positively influence the behaviours of companies, sectors and governments through dialogue as an investor. This can be done through voting on resolutions at company meetings, making formal submissions to government, face-to-face meetings with company leaders, etc.

4. Impact investing – making investments that meet an environmental or social need, while also generating a positive financial return (e.g. renewable energy, microfinance, community infrastructure and social services).

Christian Super is currently invested in Lendlease and Stockland, who are involved in developing, constructing, and managing residential and commercial properties (including shopping centres). When individual shopping centres make decisions that we disagree with (e.g. what retail tenants they will allow as tenants, or what advertising they will allow in their shopping centre) we have determined that in this case we can most effectively influence by staying invested in these companies and using our active ownership rights, joining other concerned investors to try and effect change.

We care deeply about the issues that have been rightly raised by the Collective Shout community, and have reached out to Lendlease to organise a meeting to discuss these. As investors we will be asking them to work with the relevant individual shopping centres to address the issue.