We are proud signatories of the internationally-recognised UN sponsored Principles for Responsible Investment and Climate Action 100+
At Wesleyan, we proudly manage more than £7 billion of our customers’ and members’ money in companies and other assets across the globe.
As a mutual, we strive to make sure that the impact we have on the climate and our communities does as much good as the impact we have on your investments.
Here you'll learn about our approach to sustainable investing, and how we apply it.
Just as we’re dedicated to delivering better outcomes for you, we’re committed to investing in companies that seek to reduce harm, have a positive impact and drive positive change. Companies that are actively working to protect the environment and tackling the issues that impact the planet and its people.
To learn more about sustainable investing and what it means to us at Wesleyan, read our brochure.
When you invest with Wesleyan, you can rest assured that we will invest your money in businesses committed to reducing the negative impact they may have on people, communities and the environment.
As an example, we only invest in oil and gas companies that extract in a responsible manner and have comprehensive commitments to be carbon net zero by 2050. Similarly, we do not invest in companies who produce paper products from unsustainable sourcing of timber linked to habitat destruction. We do not invest in companies that produce civilian firearms or tobacco.
These positions are reviewed on a regular basis, in line with the views of our members.
To many people, sustainable investing is about the companies or industries they choose not to invest in. For us, it’s as much about the ones we do. So, who do we invest in?
Companies that actively combat climate change. Companies that improve well-being through medical innovation. Companies that provide greater access to healthcare and education, or promote sustainable cities and communities through affordable housing, mass transit and more.
We have set specific goals and minimum targets to measure the positive impact we have - with a commitment to having at least 10% (and no upper limit) of assets in a fund invested in these areas.
At Wesleyan, we aim to have a strong and positive influence on all the companies we invest in.
We're committed to being a force for positive change, challenging and helping the businesses we invest in to develop and improve their own sustainability approach. Encouraging them to invest in the right way, so they too can make a better contribution to our environment and society.
The energy company Exxon Mobil had been a Wesleyan holding for many years.
In 2021, Wesleyan made the decision to divest from Exxon Mobil as the Sustainable Investment (SI) Team felt that it was not keeping pace with industry peers on ESG issues – mainly due to its response to climate change and the worldwide transition to renewable energy.
Before divesting, the SI Team voted at Exxon Mobil’s 2021 Annual General Meeting, to help the company progress its transformation journey. Team members voted to replace two of the company’s Board directors with experts in the fields of energy transition and alternative fuels. The team was pleased to see that change was made in line with its vote and the new Board Members at Exxon Mobil have brought expertise to help redefine the company’s strategy.
Since the vote, there has been significant improvement in Exxon Mobil’s approach to the sustainability of its operations, such as announcing plans to invest in low carbon energy and spending £15bn over the next six years on initiatives to reduce greenhouse gas emissions.
Even though Wesleyan decided to divest at the time, the SI Team felt it helped the company to embrace positive change.
In November 2021, two members of the Sustainable Investment (SI) Team met with an Investor Relations representative from Rio Tinto plc – the world’s second largest metals and mining corporation – to discuss a range of environmental and social issues.
This included the relationship between the company and Aboriginal Australian peoples, which had deteriorated following the tragic Juukan Gorge explosion. This event saw a 46,000-year-old sacred site destroyed by the company’s operations at the Brockman iron ore mine in the Pilbara region of Western Australia.
In the meeting, the SI Team challenged the company on the remediation measures put in place for the affected communities and its commitment on what it would do to ensure such a disaster would never reoccur.
Three months after the meeting, Rio Tinto stated that it had entered a formal agreement with the Yinhawangka Aboriginal Corporation to ensure that social values are protected during activities at its iron ore mine.
The mine’s expansion would also be designed to reduce its impacts on cultural heritage sites, and the plan will be used as a framework for future developments. It also stated that discussions regarding remediation for the destruction of Juukan Gorge were underway.
Caterpillar is a global manufacturer of construction and mining equipment, diesel and natural gas engines, industrial turbines, and diesel-electric locomotives. The team felt that Caterpillar was falling behind its peers by not setting sufficiently challenging targets for carbon emission reductions and not giving enough prominence to sustainability issues in its business strategy.
Caterpillar has responded positively to engagement, and we have seen it addressing key investor concerns. Since the Sustainable Investment (SI) Team began engagement activities, the firm has established the new leadership position of Chief Sustainability & Strategy Officer, reporting directly to the Chairman and CEO. The Board of Directors has also committed to incorporating ESG factors into the 2022 incentive plan for Executive Officers. This goes a long way to ensuring that sustainability metrics are central to the business.
The SI Team continues to work with Caterpillar to ensure further improvements are introduced. In 2022, the team was also asked to review and provide feedback on their sustainability report.
Investing in companies is a key part of fund management. As shareholders we have the right to vote on a range of strategic issues that include complex areas such as sustainability.
As part of our commitment to 'driving change', we carefully consider all factors and take appropriate action to vote as we see fit. Voting is extremely important to us because it can help to shape the way a company is managed, as well as its approach to sustainability. This, in turn, can affect the long-term financial returns we can expect to achieve for all those who trust in us to invest on their behalf.
More ways in which we support sustainable investing...