Wanted: Workforce Data at Companies From Apple to Wal-Mart

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By Andrea Vittorio

A global group of institutional investors with nearly $8 trillion in combined assets is asking Apple Inc., Wal-Mart Stores Inc. and 73 other large public companies for more disclosure on the people who work for them.

The investors are backing a survey sent July 3 to the companies, most of which are listed in the U.K., asking about topics such as the gender pay gap, staff turnover and training, and employee morale.

So-called human capital and other social issues have gotten a lot less investor attention compared to environmental or corporate governance topics, often because of a lack of comprehensive and comparable data. “Social issues have been described as Cinderella in the ESG [environmental, social and governance] family,” Lisa Nathan, who manages the workforce disclosure initiative organized by U.K. charity ShareAction, told Bloomberg BNA.

The survey is meant to help fill the gap in data on how companies manage their workforces at home and in their supply chains and how they compare with peers. Participation is voluntary, but ShareAction hopes companies will be compelled by the endorsement of 79 institutional investors, including European asset managers Schroders and Amundi as well as U.S.-based Rockefeller Asset Management and Pax World Management.

Another survey supporter, Legal & General Investment Management, called it “an extremely useful format” for integrating workforce data into its assessment of company performance. “As a large and long-term investor, information on a company’s culture and employee engagement is important to understand the sustainability of business practices and long-term prospects,” Jeannette Andrews, LGIM’s corporate governance manager, said in a statement.

To contact the reporter on this story: Andrea Vittorio in Washington at avittorio@bna.com

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Yin Wilczek at ywilczek@bna.com

For More Information

The list of companies receiving the survey is available at http://src.bna.com/quS

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