Investors Tell Australian Firms to Improve Indigenous Relations
(Bloomberg) -- The firm that represents managers of more than A$1 trillion ($700 million) of Australia’s pension funds has told the companies they invest in to improve their ties with Indigenous communities.
The Australian Council of Superannuation Investors wants firms to build strong relationships with First Nations peoples and ensure they have free, prior and informed consent through the life of a project on their land, according to its updated engagement guidelines Thursday. The firm advises local and global investors including AustralianSuper, the nation’s largest pension fund.
Failing to respect their rights can carry significant human, social and financial costs, including project delays, litigation, poor staff retention and a hit to a company’s reputation, the statement said.
It’s the first time ACSI have have added First Nations issues to its biennial engagement guidelines to scrutinize firms over environmental, social and governance issues. It last year helped investors pressure senior executives at Rio Tinto Group to resign after the miner blew up rock shelters that were used by Aboriginal Australians for cooking and shelter as long as 46,000-years ago.
“Over the past two years, we have seen the financial impact that can occur when companies mismanage ESG issues,” ACSI chief executive Louise Davidson said. “Our guidelines seek to promote better ESG performance of listed companies.”
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