Diversity, equity and inclusion
Increasing the proportion of women on boards and executive management teams was one of the first governance issues on which the Fund began to work. Since then, diversity work at Andra AP-fonden has evolved to include the entire business. The Fund continues to contribute to positive development through dialogue with companies concerning selection processes for boards and management teams, and today there are also investments linked to diversity and equality. Diversity is one of the factors in the Fund’s proprietary indices.
On average, the Fund’s listed holdings must have at least 40 per cent of each gender represented on the board by 2030. The Fund must have actively influenced the portfolio companies to have a strategy for diversity, equity and inclusion.
The Fund’s starting point is that companies that work on diversity, equity and inclusion issues not only take sustainability issues very seriously, but are also more competitive and thereby create better value.
For the Fund, Diversity entails different characteristics and conditions, such as gender and experience, as well as different social, religious and ethnic backgrounds. Equity means a fair society in which everyone has the same fundamental rights, opportunities and obligations. Inclusion concerns feeling a sense of community and being part of the group.
Diversity, equity and inclusion are integrated into the Fund’s management, both in the investment process and through voting and dialogue.
What AP2 does – responsible investments
Diversity in proprietary indices
AP2 has developed a multi-factor index for internally managed foreign equities and corporate bonds. Exposure to various ESG factors, such as equality and percentage of women in the company, is included in the index structure. The indices are fully in line with AP2’s mission, since they are expected to generate higher returns at lower risk, while taking sustainability aspects into account. They are a key element of the Fund’s process of integrating sustainability into investment decisions.
An evaluation of the rate of return requires a time period of at least five years, but there are indications that the factor of the proportion of women in the company, from a global perspective, has contributed to a positive return in the Fund’s multi-factor index for foreign equities. The effect has been stronger in developed markets compared with emerging markets.
Investments in opportunities
To increase access to capital for female entrepreneurs and to promote lending in emerging countries, AP2 has invested in the Women Entrepreneurs Debt Fund (WEDF), which is part of the Women Entrepreneurs Opportunity Facility (WEOF). WEOF is a partnership between Goldman Sachs 10,000 Women and IFC (International Finance Corporation). IFC is one of five institutions at the World Bank. With this investment, AP2 contributes to economic growth in emerging markets, with a focus on sustainability and female entrepreneurship. Women in emerging countries are an under-utilised resource. Investment in small and medium-sized enterprises that are owned by women can therefore help stimulate growth. The initiative also enables the Fund to develop skills in the area of diversity.
What AP2 does – responsible ownership
Female Representation Index
Since 2003, the Fund has monitored the percentage of women on boards and executive managements, and has annually published a report on this, the AP2 Female Representation Index. With its annual Female Representation Index, AP2 aims to spread knowledge, contribute to dialogue and objective debate and, above all, increase the proportion of women on boards and in executive management teams. The Fund believes that a broader recruitment basis promotes diversity, which has a positive influence on boards and executive managements.
With greater diversity in background and experience, the right conditions and leadership, teams become more innovative and creative. This, in turn, produces prosperous and successful companies. Since 2003, the Fund has conducted a study – the Index of Female Representation – to measure the proportion of women at middle-management level, in executive management teams, and on boards of listed companies. Information from the Index of Female Representation is used in the Fund’s corporate governance practices and is followed up at the annual general meetings attended by the Fund in the course of the year.
Diversity in private equity
Diversity is a priority issue when AP2 invests in private equity. In the Fund’s model for analysis and evaluation of private equity companies’ sustainability practices, these practices are assessed on the basis of 25 assessment points that include diversity and inclusion. As part of the overall assessment, there are also further questions specifically about diversity and inclusion.
The dialogue with the managers raises such questions as:
- What is the status of diversity in the company among employees and management?
- Is this issue given priority in the organisation?
- Does the company have policies and guidelines in place and how are they embedded within the organisation?
- How does the recruitment process take diversity issues into account?
- How is diversity embedded within the company’s culture?
- Does the company have an internal mentoring programme for diversity or other ways of working with the issue in-house or externally?
- What are the company’s goals in terms of diversity and inclusion?
The aim is to drive change and the issues are reviewed and monitored continuously by the Fund.
AP2 works continuously with other investors to drive the issues of diversity, equity and inclusion. This takes place through the member organisations to which the Fund belongs, such as PRI and ACGA, but also through other initiatives that the Fund chooses to run and/or support. AP2 was one of 65 international investors to sign an initiative targeted at some 1,200 global companies. The initiative calls on the companies to strengthen their gender equality initiatives and increase transparency on gender equality issues. Gender equality is one of the identified prerequisites for delivering more sustainable global development and is one of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. In the petition, investors pledge their support to the UN Women Empowerment Principles (WEP). WEP comprises seven principles for greater gender equality and is supported by the UN Global Compact.
AP2 has signed the Diversity in Action initiative of the Institutional Limited Partners Association (ILPA). This requires the Fund to fulfil a number of diversity requirements and to work systematically with diversity internally, besides setting equivalent requirements for new private equity investments.
One aim of the initiative is to create a platform for investors to discuss diversity and inclusion issues, promote discussion and disseminate knowledge of the subject, and to set a good example within the industry. Within the framework of Diversity in Action, the Fund has the opportunity to share best practices and further develop its internal work on diversity and inclusion.
AP2 sees strength in diversity and in an inclusive approach, and wishes to be an attractive employer for anyone with the right expertise, irrespective of age, ethnic background or gender.
AP2 is a partner of the Mitt Liv organisation, which since 2008 has been working to increase diversity and inclusion in the Swedish labour market. This gives the Fund an opportunity to work proactively, on a long-term and practical basis, with diversity, equity and inclusion. Each year, under the organisation’s mentoring programme, five Fund employees have the opportunity to serve as mentors for academics with foreign backgrounds who are seeking employment that requires their professional qualifications.
Internally, the Fund’s work is led, guided and supported by an anti-discrimination policy and a plan for diversity, equality and inclusion.
The Fund reports its work on diversity, equity and inclusion in the Fund’s annual report, sustainability reports and on the Fund’s external website. The Fund also discloses its position transparently in the Fund’s Ownership Policy and Voting Guidelines, which clearly state the Fund’s position and how the Fund intends to vote on various issues relating to diversity, equity and inclusion.