On Thursday 29 March 2018, Robeco published its Sustainability Report 2017. In this report, Robeco accounts for the way in which it strives to create value for all of its stakeholders, thereby zooming in on the sustainability aspects of its investments, as well as on its own governance and business operations. The report was written in accordance with the reporting standards of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and affirms Robeco’s commitment to the principles of the United Nations Global Compact.
Robeco conducted a survey among its stakeholders to ascertain which topics they would like to be informed about in the report. The resulting materiality analysis showed that stakeholders are most interested in Robeco’s investment performance, active ownership activities, ESG integration and long-term value creation.
In 2017, of all portfolios Robeco managed or sub-advised, 79% outperformed over a three-year period compared to the relevant benchmark. Robeco managed EUR 100 billion in ESG-integrated assets, which is the maximum amount of assets to which ESG integration could be applied. Assets under engagement amounted to EUR 236 billion in 2017. Serving as an active owner on behalf of its stakeholders, Robeco has conducted engagement dialoques at 177 companies, handled 206 engagement cases and voted at 4,733 shareholder meetings. These efforts were rewarded with an A+ rating by the PRI. Among all asset classes, Robeco’s investment teams incorporate ESG factors into their analyses, portfolio construction and valuations. Robeco included a long-term value creation model in the report to demonstrate its contribution to society-at-large.
Besides these investment themes, the report also addresses topics related to Robeco’s governance and business operations, such as business ethics, risk management and compliance, diversity and social commitment. Strict compliance rules are in place in order to preclude conflicts of interest, or even their semblance. A program to promote gender diversity was broadened in 2017 to promote the diversity of opinions. Social commitment is encouraged among employees by promoting volunteer work and financial support for community projects.
Gilbert Van Hassel, CEO of Robeco, observes in his foreword to the report that, “Investing is no longer only about wealth. Today, it’s about creating both wealth and well-being. For many of our stakeholders, ensuring the world remains habitable for future generations has become as important as optimizing investment returns. Robeco’s Sustainability Report reflects our commitment to that cause. Our ESG-integrated assets grew from EUR 79 billion to EUR 100 billion, an increase of 27%. Furthermore, we require our own business operations to meet the same strict environmental, social and governance standards as we apply to our investment processes and investees.”