‘The worker is going to come back into the limelight’: American Century’s head of sustainable investing

According to Sarah Bratton Hughes, Head of ESG Sustainable Investing at American Century Investments, next year will see the return of the worker to the center of ESG initiatives.

Speaking at the ESG Integration Forum – United States, hosted by IR magazine and the online sister publication’s general secretary, Hughes, said the top ESG issues that will dominate in 2023 are human capital, cybersecurity and global political action.

The ESG Integration Forum – US brought together IR, governance, legal and sustainability professionals in New York last week to discuss evolving expectations for ESG reporting and communication .

During the opening session, Hughes said: “In 2023 I strongly believe that the worker will return to center stage. I think we have a very interesting dichotomy in the market right now, where you have layoffs in what would be considered white collar positions, but there are still companies that can’t fill more jobs from blue collar.

IR magazineLaurence Taylor of talks to Sarah Bratton Hughes of American Century Investments

“Another area that we are currently working on significantly is cybersecurity and cybersecurity. I believe that every company today is a technology company. And if you don’t think that way, you should thinking this way… We continue to think this is going to make headlines, and there is looming regulation that could potentially force companies to [disclose] every time they have a cyber breach.

The third area of ​​focus for 2023 is developing rules focused on sustainable investing, Hughes said. “We have seen a massive inflection over the past three years in terms of sustainable investing policy globally,” she said.

“As an asset manager, many of these policies will start to be applied, in particular the EU taxonomy, from January 1, 2023. So we will – unfortunately – ask you all a lot more. , in this room, about a number of your measures aligned with this enduring taxonomy. »

Climate action

Hughes added that she expects climate issues to continue to be “in the headlines” in 2023. Offering advice to companies on their transition plans, she observed: “From my perspective, it’s is the quality of net zero engagement. That’s the way there – is it really a realistic way?

“He tries to assess where your capex is going. It’s about understanding how this is embedded throughout the organization. Who is the most experienced person responsible for it? How does the board potentially monitor this?

Hughes said American Century is also focused on how companies incorporate just transition principles toward net zero commitments. “This ensures that workers, countries and communities are not left behind during the transition,” she explained.

The ESG Integration Forum – USA took place over two days and included sessions on incoming regulation, the backlash against ESG, how to define material ESG issues for your business, and many other topics.

To learn more about the forum or access replays of the event, click here.

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