AXA IM: Directors must have 'proven' ESG track record to drive sustainable value

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AXA IM: Directors must have 'proven' ESG track record to drive sustainable value

AXA Investment Managers (AXA IM) has added further requirements to its corporate governance and voting policy for investee companies.

According to AXA, from this year, company directors must have a "proven track record" of managing both environmental and social issues in a way that drives sustainable value creation.

The asset manager said it will engage companies to understand nomination committee approaches to board appointments, and will vote against renewed directorships if management of environmental and social responsibilities is deemed inadequate.

It also confirmed it would vote against the re-election of nomination committee chairs at UK and US large-cap companies, should there be little evidence of ethnic representation at board level.

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The move comes a day after the UK's financial watchdog finalised a policy requiring all FCA-regulated listed companies to have at least one board member from a black or ethnic minority group, and at least 40% women at board level.

"To play a key role in financing the transition to a greener and more sustainable world, engaging and then exercising our voting rights as an investor is a fundamental aspect of our ability to influence the decisions and the roadmap of the companies we invest in," said Clémence Humeau, head of RI coordination and governance at AXA IM.

"Including these new ESG requirements within our voting policy will ensure we allocate capital to companies that have clear ESG commitments and targets."

The manager added that "clear ESG elements" must be included in remuneration policies for senior management, including in bonuses and long-term incentive plans, and where necessary, the firm will vote against policies that lack relevant criteria.

On climate, AXA has reiterated that companies exposed to climate risk must have a short, mid and long-term net zero strategy with integrated carbon emission reduction targets, and that executive remuneration must be aligned to company climate objectives.

The adoption of frameworks to report on sustainability is also required, it said.