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Find out what we've been up to this year
Lucky 7! Members of the DJSI for the 7th year with our highest ranking to date!
On the 7th of September we received our 7th set of Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) results. The DJSI launched in 1999 and is the global gold standard for corporate sustainability. 2017 is our third consecutive year of improving our ranking and we’re the highest placed UK company in our sector. This success is thanks our people consistently improve what they do to benefit our customers, shareholders, local communities and the environment. We were best in class score for our tax strategy at 100% and did well with scores of 90 plus for customer relationship management, integration of ESG issues into our investment process, our risk and crisis management approach, our environmental reporting, and our charitable giving strategy and reporting.
We’re helping to improve potential outcomes for over a million of our pension customers
Over the last decade the pensions landscape has fundamentally changed, from auto-enrolment to pensions freedoms. These new policies have moved risk and responsibility to employees and employers - increasing flexibility but also complexity. What effect will all this have in the long term? To help improve potential outcomes for over a million of our customers we’re making changes to one of the funds used in our ‘lifestyling’ investment solution. Phased switching or lifestyling, often the default investment option for pensions, was designed to help maintain the level of annuity that people can buy by gradually investing their funds in assets that change in line with annuity rates as they approach retirement. However the new pensions freedoms rules mean less people are buying annuities and instead are remaining invested after retirement or taking lump sums so annuity targeted lifestyling is not always the best option. Jenny Holt, our Head of Customer and Workplace Proposition said: "The changes to our investment approach are customer-led and address the greater choice people now have when it comes to how they plan to use their pension savings to meet their needs."
Star-Studded GRESB Assessment
We received excellent results from our annual GRESB assessment at the start of September. GRESB is the global sustainability benchmark for real estate funds so it’s an important measure of how we’re doing year-on-year and relative to our peers. Aberdeen Standard Investments achieved 21 ‘Green Star’ ranked funds - the highest number awarded to any participant in this year's assessment. We improved our overall performance by an average of over 7%, compared to 2016, placing us in the top 20% of our peers. In addition, 20 Standard Life Investments funds were assessed against GRESB's voluntary Health & Wellbeing Module, with improvements on last year's scores. David Paine, Global Head of Real Estate, said: “Real estate accounts for around 40% of energy use globally, so how we manage buildings has an important role to play in cutting greenhouse emissions. Increasingly, real estate investors are seeking clear and detailed sustainability strategies."
We’re helping young people find sustainable careers at ‘Get Hired’
We continued to tackle youth unemployment with a Get Hired match-making day in London for young people looking for work and businesses looking for talented recruits. The day of speed-dating style recruitment included interviews and networking. Get Hired started three years ago following a pilot funded by Standard Life Charitable Trust and run by the Princes Trust. With its success and our support the programme is now being launched across the UK.
Our new Armed Forces impact report
Standard Life signed the Armed Forces Covenant in 2013, which is a voluntary pledge to demonstrate support for the Armed Forces. Since then we've taken action to break down barriers to employment, launched an Armed Forces Network and supported community initiatives with charity partners such as Poppyscotland and SkillForce. Our report highlights these activities and the value people from the Armed Forces community bring to businesses.
We’re driving transparency of workforce data
We are part of a coalition of 79 asset managers who have signed the new Workforce Disclosure Initiative (WDI) set up by ShareAction, the responsible investment organisation. The WDI asks the world’s largest companies for data on their labour practices including staff on permanent contracts and minimum wages in order to identify workforces that are vulnerable to financial risk.
Looking to the long term for savings
Jamie Jenkins, our Head of Pensions Strategy, chaired discussions at the ABI Long Term Savings conference on helping people to adapt to the emerging challenges of the changing pensions landscape and prepare for retirement. Being part of these discussions on key trends and issues helps to inform our pensions and savings strategy and do the right thing for our customers.
Voting update from our Environmental Social and Governance (ESG) Investment team
Joanna McNeill and Sophie Rahm from our ESG investment team, presented a webinar on Standard Life Investment’s voting approach and key trends for the first half of 2017. So far this year we’ve voted at 1,136 shareholder general meetings with the most votes being cast in April, May and June, the peak voting season.
For governance a key theme was executive remuneration which represented our largest percentage of votes against management recommendations. The greatest number of environment and social resolutions voted on related to human capital and diversity, with climate change second. You can view a recording here.
Supporting our carers commitments
From 12 - 18 June it was Carers week which raised awareness of the challenges carers face and recognised the contribution they make. During the week our carers’ network hosted information stalls and one of their members gave a talk about her personal experiences as a carer.
In July our carers network won the employee network of the year award at the ENEI Awards 2017. The employers network for equality & inclusion (enei) work with their members to achieve and promote best practice in equality and inclusion in the workplace.
Our continuing support for carers has also been recognised by Carer Positive with an increased accreditation from an ‘Engaged’ to ‘Established’ employer. Sandy Begbie, our chief people officer, also shared his thoughts on how it makes business sense for employers to support working carers.
Continuing to increase our diversity and inclusion
Our focus on promoting and providing inclusive employment has been recognised as we've been ranked fourth in the first UK Social Mobility Employer Index 2017. We achieved this through becoming a Living Wage employer, championing diversity through sponsoring events like the recent diversity conference in Scotland and supporting our thriving people networks. Our newest network Mosaic launched in June and aims to enhance our cultural awareness of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) communities and support their development.
Making a positive impact through your investments
Our environment social and governance investment team have just published a report on impact investing, explaining how positive impact can be achieved alongside financial returns by embracing the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals.
Our new human rights policy – protect, respect and remedy
Our new policy sets out why it is important we uphold, and take action to protect, the rights of our people, customers and community as well as those impacted by our suppliers, business partners and the companies we invest in.
We also published an ESG investment paper looking at why companies should ensure their actions do not violate or infringe upon the human rights of their stakeholders and how failing to manage human rights risks may result in operational and reputational impacts.
20 years of excellence for our defined contribution (DC) pensions
The judging panel, made up of senior scheme members, trustees and advisers, examined how much we've developed our services and products to help pension schemes, employers, trustees and their members.
Boosting knowledge of finance starting in the classroom
Research shows that a significant proportion of the UK population have never received financial education and lack the skills and knowledge to effectively manage their money and explain ‘basic’ financial terms, including ISA, equity and asset management.
To help increase financial capability across the UK 16 savings and investment firms, including Standard Life, have backed an initiative called KickStart Money. This collaborative project aims to take financial education to over 18,000 primary school children, catalysing a movement to build a national savings culture for the future.
Environmental, social and governance (ESG) investment team Q1 report
The report includes thematic commentary on ESG issues including executive remuneration, cobalt mining (for the production of batteries) and sustainability indices FTSE4Good and DJSI as well as details on engagements with companies we invest in and how we voted at AGMs during the quarter.
Capitalising on military talent
As a signatory to the Armed Forces covenant, we recognise the values that serving personnel, reservists, veterans and military families bring to our business and the community. In March we collaborated with Business in the Community and other forces-friendly businesses to launch a toolkit for employers to support veterans and make the most of military talent.
Also in March the beneficiaries of the Scottish Veterans Fund, supported by Standard Life, were announced. A group from our Accelerated Development Scheme worked with Poppyscotland to develop a strategy and an application to the Ministry of Defence’s Aged Veterans Fund. Their application was successful and, in April, Poppyscotland received a £4million grant to undertake a three-year programme of support for older veterans and their families in Scotland.
We look at deforestation and its challenges for companies and investors
In March, our ESG investment team published a paper on deforestation and its implications for companies. Almost 80% of deforestation is linked to agriculture, particularly cattle, palm oil, timber and soy. Knock-on effects of deforestation include the loss of 1000s of plant and animal species as well as land grabs, community displacement and food security. Investors can be exposed to reputational or financial risk from investing in producers or through supply chains.
Our new sustainable real estate report – some buildings live forever!
Through our real estate funds we manage over 620 buildings with over 4,500 lease agreements around the world. Our new look report shows how we manage these responsibly by applying our three sustainable real estate investment priorities - occupier satisfaction (focusing on wellbeing), resource scarcity and climate change. It also features case studies demonstrating our innovation in sustainability - our building in Fokker Park, near Schiphol airport in the Netherlands is the world’s first Cradle to Cradle® logistics building. Its modular design makes it fully flexible for future uses and it’s designed for disassembly so its elements can be re-used and recycled.
We’ve published our modern slavery statement
Modern slavery refers to forced labour, bonded labour, human trafficking and child slavery. In the UK, the Home Office estimates that 10-13,000 people are in modern slavery at any one time. We are wholly opposed to such practices and welcome the UK’s Modern Slavery Act. Our statement sets out the steps we have taken to meet our responsibilities and what we can do to tackle the issues.
Our support for the new SkillForce Prince William award
Members of our sustainability team travelled to Wales for the launch of the new SkillForce Prince William award, a first-of-its-kind national character award scheme for children aged 6 to 14. SkillForce are a charity who we have supported for five years. They use the skills of ex-service personnel to help children and young people in the UK to develop self-confidence, resilience and character.
Award winning corporate responsibility in Ireland
We won the Best Corporate Social Responsibility Award at the 2017 Longboat Analytics Financial Services Awards in Dublin. Our submission focused on our Irish charity partnership with Barnardos, and how we have transformed the lives of 60 teen parents and their children.
Caring company award in Hong Kong
Our people in Hong Kong were awarded the Caring Company Logo by the Hong Kong Council of Social Service for the second consecutive year. The award is in recognition of their commitment to caring for their community, employees and environment.
Our new Governance and Stewardship report is out
We’ve published our annual governance and stewardship report. The report provides an account of our engagement and voting activities in 2016. We held 215 meetings and other engagement activities with companies as well as 201 voting engagements and 105 remuneration consultations. The key areas of focus for 2016 voting included board composition, mergers & acquisitions, remuneration and shareholder rights. The report also includes insights into our views on some of the key international developments and topical issues.
Our 2016 sustainability report – Investing for a better future
We published our annual sustainability report together with our annual report and accounts on 24 February. The reports tell the story of how we operate with integrity, support people to save, invest responsibly, provide engaging employment and contribute to wider society. We review our progress against our non-financial measures and sustainability ambitions as well as looking forward at how we will collaborate to invest for a better future.
Our new supplier code of conduct
In February we launched our new supplier code of conduct. The code sets out what we expect from our suppliers and reflects the values and principles within our global code of conduct. The code includes a framework for our suppliers providing guidance on business ethics including acting with integrity and working with others - covering issues such as human rights, labour standards and bribery.
Supporting children’s mental health week
In February we supported our UK charity partners Place2Be with their Children's Mental Health Week. The aim of the week was to encourage everyone - adults and children alike - to spread a little kindness. We showed our support by sending our local schools links to Place2Be resources, holding a reception at the Scottish parliament to raise awareness, running competitions and games and flying the children’s mental health week flag.
Silver distinction from RobecoSAM
As one of the top-scoring companies in our industry, we qualified for inclusion in the RobecoSAM 2017 Sustainability Yearbook and received the Silver Class distinction for the first time for our corporate sustainability performance. Together with S&P Dow Jones Indices, RobecoSAM publishes the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) based on its annual corporate sustainability assessment (CSA). Out of the 2473 companies that were assessed from all industries only 159 were awarded silver or gold putting us in the top 7%. In the CSA we are consistently high scoring in corporate governance and responsible investment & stewardship. In 2016 we achieved large increases in financial inclusion, social reporting and tax strategy.
Our best ever FTSE4Good results
We received our best ever FTSE4Good results this month. Our increased score places us in the 100th percentile meaning we are in the top 1% of the index. The index is designed to measure the performance of companies demonstrating strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and help investors integrate ESG into their investment decisions. Our largest improvements were in labour standards, human rights & community and responsible investment - social supply chain.
We’re helping investors to monitor climate impact
Together with 13 asset owners and five asset managers we are supporting the new Transitional Pathway Initiative (TPI). TPI is an online data–analysis tool which enables investors to assess how effectively companies are addressing climate related risks. It was launched by the national investment bodies of the Church of England in partnership with the UK Environment Agency Pension Fund and the London School of Economics.
Sustainability news 2016
Award winning corporate social responsibility in customer operations
We won the award for Corporate Social Responsibility in Customer Service at the CCA Excellence Awards. The award recognises not only how we are removing the barriers to employment, but how we provide further support and development for our people once they start work.
Head of Sustainability, Sandy MacDonald, said "The programmes we arrange are nothing without teams across the business embracing them and doing their bit to help people into work, support those with different needs, and get involved with our charity partnerships. Customer Operations really get behind corporate responsibility initiatives and help Standard Life make them a success. I'm delighted they're being recognised with this award and can celebrate their achievements."
We won the award for 'Best Place to Work in Money Management'
Our Boston office was ranked first out of 50 medium sized employers in the 2016 Pensions & Investments' Best Place to Work in Money Management awards. This is the third consecutive year that our Boston office has won the award.
Many of our people who were surveyed for the award said that having such a positive culture begins with careful recruitment – choosing the right people helps to foster a collaborative environment. "There is a great sense of camaraderie and the firm treats each employee as an individual". Another said "Ideas are heard and change is possible". This award recognises how favourably our people in the US view our business and is a great testament to the strong culture and team based approach that we have across Standard Life.
Good money week - make money and make a difference
Standard Life Investments were the lead sponsor of Good Money Week. The week raises awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance and encourages people to consider whether the businesses they trust with their money - banks, pensions, savings and investments - are looking after it properly and using it in ways that benefit them, society and the environment.
Why is paying the UK Living wage important?
30 October to 5 November was also Living Wage Week, a UK-wide celebration of the Living Wage and a great opportunity for us to raise awareness about the difference it makes.
During the week we ran awareness sessions for our people about why paying all our employees and interns at least the Living Wage is important. We also pledged to introduce the new Living Wage rates earlier than required, from the 16th of November. We tweeted about our external activities which included speaking at the Scottish parliament about our commitment to paying all our recruits the UK living wage.
Our new climate change investment statement
As a business, our largest environmental impact is through our investments. Climate risk is one of the greatest challenges our industry is facing and we have a responsibility to consider actively how climate change will impact the value of our clients’ investments. We recently published our new climate change statement (PDF, 1.86MB), which details our approach on how to influence the wider uptake of climate-related considerations into the investment process.
Increasing understanding of business ethics - doing the right thing
In September, our sustainability, risk and responsible investment teams collaborated to bring together a range of expert voices for an event on the importance of investing in an ethical culture from both a company and investor perspective. We held the event in conjunction with the University of Edinburgh Business School's Sustainable Business Initiative and the Institute of Business Ethics.
We are working to raise awareness and understanding of mental health
World Mental Health Day was on the 10th of October - a day to educate and raise awareness of mental illness. We're committed to creating a workplace in which our people feel comfortable enough to talk about mental health issues. Also in October we became one of the first See Me in Work Partners to help raise awareness of mental health issues and work to end stigma and discrimination.
Supporting our armed forces community
We are proud supporters of our veterans' community and a committed signatory of the Armed Forces Corporate Covenant.
In October we announced we will be contributing £80,000 each year for the next three years, a total of £240,000, to the Scottish Veterans Fund, to help people leaving the armed forces, and their families, transition more effectively to civilian employment.
This year our Armed forces network has also partnered with Poppy Scotland to help distribute poppies and collect donations across Edinburgh for Remembrance Day alongside a team of our volunteers.
Our responsible real estate
In line with our responsible real estate strategy which focuses on ensuring our assets benefit the health, wellbeing and productivity of their occupants and users we have joined the UK Green Building Council. We will be participating in their first ‘Wellbeing Lab’ which aims to transform thinking about the design and management of working environments to promote the wellbeing and productivity of building users.
Stellar performance for our ‘Green Star’ real estate funds
The results of the annual GRESB Assessment, which measures the sustainability performance of real estate funds, were released this month. The GRESB Assessment measures the sustainability performance of funds using a range of indicators under the headings of Management & Policy and Implementation & Measurement. We achieved 15 ‘Green Star’ ranked real estate funds, the highest number of any participant globally for the second consecutive year.
- Three of our Green Star funds also achieved the new ‘Five Star’ rating, placing in the top quintile of our peers.
- We improved our overall performance by an average of over 14%, outshining the 11% average increase of the other participants.
- The 17 funds which we submitted to the new voluntary Health and Wellbeing module all achieved ‘Leader’ status. This is an area that we’re paying particular attention to within our real estate strategy.
Local community volunteering from our people in Hong Kong
Helping our local communities really contributes to the positive impact our business makes on society and is a long-established part of our company's culture.
In September our people in Hong Kong, as well as some of their friends and family, worked with the Senior Citizen Home Safety Association (SCHSA) to visit elderly couples and elderly people living alone. During the visits, each volunteer spent time chatting with the elderly people and gave them food gift bags.
Our best ever results in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index
We're proud to be confirmed as a member of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) for the sixth year in a row. We are pleased, that following independent analysis, our approach to being a responsible business has been recognised with a large increase in score. The results reflect the way in which we have been embedding our sustainable strategy across our business, and demonstrated our particular strength in the economic and social dimensions.
New charity partners for the UK, Ireland and Germany
This summer our people in the UK, Ireland and Germany chose new charity partners. In the UK we elected Place2Be, who provide emotional support to children in schools by running counselling for children and support for parents, carers and teachers. In Ireland we elected ARC Cancer Centres who offer complementary therapies and counselling services to people with cancer and those who care for them. In Germany our people chose Hilfe für krebskranke Kinder Frankfurt e.V. which helps children suffering from cancer in Frankfurt. These partnerships will all last until the end of 2017.
Our partnerships with Let's Get Ready in the US and Hong Kong Society for the Protection of Children in Hong Kong will continue until the end of 2016 when new charity partners will be elected by our people in these locations too.
Celebrating our local community support
At the end of August we hosted a reception to thank our employees and people from local charities who make a difference in our communities. We held the celebration at our head office in Edinburgh giving everyone a great view of the fireworks concert which marked the end of the Edinburgh International Festival.
We are a partner of the Edinburgh International Festival and sponsor of the Standard Life Opening Event which this year was "Deep Time". This was an amazing free outdoor animated light projection onto castle rock set to a dramatic soundtrack featuring inspirational people from Edinburgh.
Tackling governance - key to India's prosperity
Improving governance: Holding the key to India’s prosperity (PDF, 129KB), a recent paper from our Governance and Stewardship director Mike Everett looks at why, despite India being one of the world’s fastest growing economies, many investors shy away from Indian equities and emerging markets, due to concerns about risk, volatility and poor corporate governance. Mike recently visited India to see how the country is tackling its governance issues and to gauge what this means for investors.
We published our UK community impact report
Our UK community impact report (PDF, 2.5MB) contains all of our UK community-related activity since our current community investment strategy started and examines the impact and support we provided. It covers employability and financial capability, removing barriers to work and the projects supported by the Standard Life Charitable Trust.
Flying the flag for Pride
On the first weekend of July we celebrated Edinburgh Pride and were proud to fly the rainbow flag from Standard Life House for the second year.
Our LGBT Allies supported the LGBT community and invited everyone to join them at the event to show our commitment to equality and diversity.
We're working to improve gender diversity in financial services
In July, to focus our efforts and show our support for improving the representation of women in senior roles across our industry we signed the new UK Treasury's Women in Finance Charter. We are currently working on setting our targets.
Helping our investors understand our sustainable business
We highlighted our sustainable business priorities to our investors and analysts in our summer Investor Relations newsletter (PDF, 519KB). Our article (pg.6) explains how we identify our sustainability priorities and embed these into our business. We also look at some of our successes in 2015.
Our sustainable travel week
As a responsible business we support our people to travel sustainably. During our annual sustainable travel week we asked our people how they travel to work so we can focus support on the right areas.
Over 1500 of our people responded. Public transport was the most popular with active travel (walking, running and cycling) coming second meaning 84% of responders are travelling sustainably.
We supported Carers' week
It's estimated that one in nine people in the UK have caring responsibilities. That could be as many as 600 of our people, so we were proud to support Carers Week 6th - 10th June We held an event to bring together employers, caring charities and colleagues to share best practice and discuss some of the challenges faced by carers.
Our commitment to provide a working environment where our carers' are valued and supported means we are accredited as a Carer Positive Employer. We work to encourage other employers to support their carers' and to take up the accreditation.
Our statement at the WPP AGM
As stewards of our clients' investments we consider the impact on profitability of investee companies when environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues are not managed effectively.
In June our Head of Stewardship and ESG Investment, Euan Stirling, attended the AGM of WPP plc. Euan gave a statement providing our views on succession planning for CEO Sir Martin Sorrell (PDF, 90KB) and our concerns regarding his remuneration arrangements. This action followed our statement (PDF, 90KB) at the 2015 AGM, and subsequent engagement on these topics. At the AGM, together with 33.5% of shareholders, we voted against WPP's remuneration report. Euan said WPP's current remuneration plan could hand Sorrell more than 15 times his £1.15m salary. "We expect that is more than would be required to recruit, retain or motivate even someone with the redoubtable talents of Mr Sorrell."
We held the first meeting of our financial inclusion panel
The aim of the panel is to look at practical ways we can become more inclusive and accessible for a range of customer groups who are not currently well served by the financial services industry. It is made up of internal subject matter experts in areas such as diversity, digital services, sustainability and product development, along with external expertise from charities and consumer groups.
Our Q1 16 Responsible Investment Report is out
Our Responsible Investment report (PDF, 718KB) includes an update on our engagements with companies, details of the Samarco dam failure in Brazil and our reviews of the human rights challenges of the Qatar construction sector and supply chain risks linked to cobalt mining in the Democratic Republic of Congo. It also features sector and asset class reports on the growth of battery technology and the United Nations Climate Conference in Paris.
Find out about our approach to sustainable real estate investment in our annual report
Our sustainable real estate investment report (PDF, 1.46MB), reflects our global commitment to responsible real estate investment. We exceeded our targets (page 8) to reduce energy consumption and greenhouse gas emissions across our real estate. We’ve also continued to focus on ensuring our assets benefit the health, wellbeing and productivity of their occupants and users.
LGBT Allies group launch
In May we launched our new business-wide initiative: The LGBT Allies. This initiative is open to everyone (regardless of their own sexual orientation or gender) who believes in promoting equality and diversity within our company, particularly for the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community.
We're championing social mobility
In March we received final accreditation from the UK Government as one of only 11 UK Social Mobility Champions. This recognises our work to break down barriers, which can help build careers and enable people to save and invest for their futures. In the last two years we've -
- introduced new innovative recruitment practices
- supported the launch of the Young Persons Development Network
- introduced new outreach initiatives with local schools
- supported new charitable and strategic partnerships to help young people.
We supported Business in the Community's Responsible Business Week 18th – 22nd April
Here are some of the activities we took part in to support Responsible Business Week whose theme this year was "Ideas for good get better when shared." -
- In partnership with The Prince’s Trust, we ran a 'Get Hired' speed networking event in London. Much like speed dating this event allows the interviewees and employers to assess lots of potential matches in a short time, maximizing the chance of finding and providing jobs
- Julie Hutchison our Head of Business Development, published a blog on the Third Force about ethical investment for charities
- Sandy Begbie our Chief People Officer spoke at the Connecting the Unconnected event at the London School of Economics about our approach to social mobility.
- Sandy MacDonald our Head of Sustainably took part in the Trusted Brands event discussing the meaning of trust, how it translates into business success and how it can be achieved.
We hosted the first Engage for Success event in Scotland
The Engage for Success event explored: how engagement impacts the business bottom line, methods to achieve engagement, case studies and innovative and commercial ways to measure engagement including some of our work taking place as a result of our employee engagement InterAction survey.
In March we hosted an event in Edinburgh, attended by guests from the financial and charity sectors, to encourage debate and share insight around how to support vulnerable consumers. The FCA also presented their Occasional Paper on Consumer Vulnerability.
Accelerating future female talent
We are supporting ‘Girls into Digital World’ an innovative new role model programme dedicated to encouraging more girls to pursue digital careers.
In March we hosted the ‘Accelerating the next generations of female talent’ event for members of the Two Percent Club, which has the objective of demonstrating and supporting female talent in UK business. Our Chief People Officer, Sandy Begbie, spoke about our work to progress gender equality and youth employment and Louise MacDonald, CEO of Young Scot, spoke about the challenges facing young women.
Our support of the SkillForce Junior Prince's Award boosts pupils' resilience
In March around 135 children from Tyne and Wear completed an outdoor activities weekend for the SkillForce Junior Prince's Award which is backed by HRH The Duke of Cambridge and funded by the Standard Life Charitable Trust.
Sandy MacDonald, Head of Sustainability said: "We're incredibly proud to support this award, which we began sponsoring in January 2015, and to see the benefits it provides to children and young people. The award scheme draws on the talent, skills and values of predominantly ex-Services personnel who have served their country, and now wish to serve their community and inspire young people to succeed."
Our 2015 sustainability report is out
We published our annual sustainability report (PDF, 3.3MB) together with our annual report and accounts (PDF, 8.7MB) (ARA) on Friday 19th February. The reports tell the story of our sustainable business approach during 2015 and look forward to what we would like to achieve in 2016 and beyond.
Winners of Insurance Risk Manager of the Year 2016
We won this award at the 2016 Risk Awards for going well beyond the minimum standards set by Solvency II and addressing business risk and technology change.
It’s good to talk about mental health
This month we supported Time to Talk day to get as many of our people as possible talking about mental health. A recent survey by See Me highlighted that many people are afraid to share their experiences due to the fear it will affect their job, relationships or cause discrimination. Sandy MacDonald, Head of Sustainability wrote a blog on MoneyPlus highlighting how important it is for businesses to create an open culture where it’s good to talk.
In December we were awarded the Investors in Young People Gold Accreditation, the highest it's possible to achieve.
Investors in Young People reward and recognise employers who demonstrate excellence in recruiting, retaining and developing young people, while encouraging others to begin working with young people. We continue to run range of successful initiatives like the Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme, Modern Apprenticeships and Investment 2020, alongside structured support and on the job training for our young people.
We are 155th in the 2016 Stonewall Workplace Equality Index (PDF, 1.3MB), rising 39 places from 2014 and a total of 196 places since our first entry in 2013.
The Index is an independent measure which allows organisations to assess progress and achievements on LGBT equality at work. We have an active LGBT employee network and have formed an Allies group. The Allies group is for people who are not LGBT, but who believe LGBT people should experience equality and inclusion at work and strive to promote and encourage this.
Our 2015 Unicef Syrian Refugee Appeal raised £20,000
We also linked up with Andy Murray and his sponsors, who donated £50 for every ace he served until the end of 2015. Andy's Aces and his partners, together with our fundraising and charity matching raised an overall total of £83,000 for Unicef's Syria Appeal.
Sustainability news 2015
In 2015 we achieved our best ever scores for all three of our key sustainability indices: DJSI Europe and World, FTSE4Good and Climate Disclosure Project
We received our FTSE4Good results, after the December 2015 index review, and have again been confirmed as a constituent and have increased our score placing us in the top 2% for our sector. The FTSE4Good review measures the performance of sustainable companies demonstrating strong environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices.
We are committed to Edinburgh Council's Sustainable Energy Action Plan (SEAP)
In December we pledged our commitment to the first ever Edinburgh Council SEAP which encourages collaborative effort in finding solutions to the city's energy challenges and targets a 42% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions by 2020.
We are a cycle friendly employer
In December our Edinburgh offices were designated as "Cycle Friendly" by Cycling Scotland. The Cycle Friendly Employer award recognises the encouragement we give our people to make more environmentally friendly and health-conscious travel choices.
Standard Life achieves best score yet in Climate Disclosure Project results
In November we achieved our best ever score in the Climate Disclosure Project (CDP), maintaining our upward trend. CDP is generally regarded as the most credible environmental index. Being listed on this index is important to us because investors use this information to gain a better understanding of our ability to respond to climate change risks and opportunities. We also value being part of it as CDP helps drive positive change as companies can compare results and strive to improve.
Living wage week
We supported Living Wage Week which was held in the first week of November. One of the ways we showed our support was by flying the Living Wage flag from Standard Life House. We encourage all organisations to consider paying the Living Wage and become Friendly Funders. We understand that the difference between the minimum wage and the Living Wage can allow more people to start saving for their futures. We pay all our interns, employees and on-site contractors the Living Wage as a minimum.
We were winners at the HR Network Awards in Glasgow
At the HR Network Awards in November, our Sustainability team were awarded the Corporate Responsibility Award of the Year. This was in recognition of our commitment to responsible business, sustainability and employability work. Since 2013, we have spent £2,605,000 on salaries and donations to charity partners, 230 jobs have been created and 1,900 young people have been supported on their journey.
Standard Life Investments sponsor Good Money Week
Good Money Week, which ran from 18th to the 24th of October, is the campaign to raise awareness of sustainable, responsible and ethical finance. It aims to help people make good money choices by letting everyone know about their sustainable and ethical options.
To support this campaign we took part in various activities to help people connect their values with their money. We wrote blogs and published useful guides to help everyone find out more about ethical savings and investment.
We are a Carer Positive employer
We have been accredited as a 'Carer Positive' employer at the Engaged level. The Carer Positive award is presented to employers in Scotland who have a working environment where carers are valued and supported.
We achieved bronze level with our Resource Efficiency Pledge
To achieve the bronze resource efficiency pledge we:
- diverted 100% of our waste from landfill (Standard Life owned and occupied UK buildings)
- made 50% of our domestic UK business travel by rail in 2014 (5% increase from 2013)
- engaged our staff by telling our waste story and why recycling is important
- hosted "Step in the Right Direction" week to promote sustainable travel to our people
We are also ambassadors to the pledge meaning we promote the benefits of resource efficiency and encourage our suppliers to sign up to the pledge.
Dow Jones Sustainability Index Results
We received our DJSI results on the 10th September and we were very happy to find out that for the fifth consecutive year we've been included in both the DJSI World and DJSI Europe indexes meaning that we are within the top 10%, and 20% respectively of sustainable companies in our sector.
Standard Life Investments collects 16 Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) 'Green Stars'
The GRESB 'Green Star' is the top ranking for sustainability management, policy, implementation and measurement. Of the 688 worldwide participants with standing investments in this year's Survey, 56% received 'Green Stars'. Standard Life Investments' funds accounted for over four per cent of this cohort.
In August Standard Life became the first private sector company to receive recognition as a "Living Wage Friendly Funder" in the UK from the Living Wage Foundation
As well as being the first corporate to join the scheme, we are already an accredited Living Wage employer and a member of the Scottish Living Wage Accreditation Initiative Leadership Group
By becoming a Living Wage Friendly Funder we have committed to help the charities we have funding relationships with to pay the Living Wage for any grant-funded posts. This approach will apply to grants made through both Standard Life plc and the Standard Life Charitable Trust.
Our Responsible Investment team have played an integral part in Standard Life Investments being rated the No 1 Firm for the Extel 2015 Award for Leading UK Asset Management firm for Socially Responsible Investing/Environmental, Social and Governance (SRI/ESG)
Extel carry out an annual Pan European Survey of the corporate and sell-side communities asking their views on the performance and capabilities of asset management firms. Our success reflects the positive views held by those in the investment industry and our investee companies.
On 31st July we launched our updated volunteer policy. It offers our employees the opportunity take up to three paid days each year to volunteer.
We know that volunteering makes a huge difference to our community, the organisations we help and to our employees. It can be a great way to develop new skills and networks, boosting self-confidence and getting involved in local life.
The UK government wants to encourage greater participation from public and private sector employees to build a stronger society – and at Standard Life we're forging ahead. Find out more about our approach to supporting our communities and volunteering.
As we highlighted in our May news Standard Life Charitable Trust is partnering with the national charity SkillForce to fund an exciting new award scheme that aims to help 9-11 year olds build the skills they need to succeed in the future.
The relationship was officially launched in South Wales at Caldicot School as the first group of young people completed the programme.
The media were invited along and a message was sent to the children from The Duke of Cambridge. Despite the attention of cameras and film crews, the children were amazing – full of confidence and humour, showing off their new sense of determination and teamwork. It was an honour to see the work that SkillForce have done to work with the schools and the young people and to help them realise just what they are capable of.
Standard Life Charitable Trust is partnering with the national charity SkillForce to fund an exciting new award scheme that aims to help 9-11 year olds build the skills they need to succeed in the future. Called "The SkillForce Junior Prince's Award", the initiative is being rolled out across Great Britain and is backed by their Patron The Duke of Cambridge. It is aimed at primary schoolchildren and those in the first year of secondary school, where the transition can be challenging. The initiative focuses on developing character, resilience, confidence, teamwork and problem solving skills. It does this through activities that include teamwork challenges and community projects.
We're delighted to be named as one of the UK's top 50 employers for women in 2015 by The Times. They reviewed some of the ways we support development and the positive impact this is having, including the specific benefits for women. A great example is our Women's Development Network which is available to anyone wishing to join, and is expanding development opportunities for all.
We made three substantial donations to Canadian charities in April, as part of the winding up of the Standard Life Canadian Foundation following the sale of our Canadian companies. Our involvement with Canada, and specifically Montréal, dates back over 170 years so we wanted to acknowledge that history and to invest in future generations and the prosperity of the city we have been part of for so long. The three donations we have made for the future are: The Standard Life Youth Fund, Notman Fund and Heritage Montréal. See our video for more on these donations.
More than 200 young people from across Scotland gathered in Edinburgh on 21 April to celebrate their graduation from the Career Academies programme 2015. Of all those graduating, a special congratulation goes to the five Scottish regional winners of The Sir Win Bischoff award, who, in recognition of their achievements have been offered a ten week summer placement with Standard Life and will be paid at The Living Wage.
Standard Life was one of three companies shortlisted for "The Large Employer Graduates in Scotland Most Aspire to Work For" at the inaugural Adopt an Intern Awards 2015. Our nomination came about as a result of a recent survey of graduates throughout Scotland.
We hosted a workplace visit for students from Castlebrae Community High School to discuss careers and what it's like to work for a large financial services company like Standard Life.
We removed all entry criteria for our Good to Go auto enrolment pension – opening it up to all employers left to stage. This paves the way for any small or medium-sized business which has not already staged to enrol their employees quickly and efficiently into a high quality pension proposition that can deliver great outcomes for its employees.
We completed our recruitment and issued offers for the next intake of Edinburgh Guarantee young people, due to start in May 2015.
Our offices across the globe joined millions of other people in supporting Earth Hour by turning off our lights.
We hosted an event for the Joseph Rowntree Foundation as they launched their annual report on poverty and social exclusion in Scotland. Being approached to host this event is a recognition of the positive role we play as an employer in supporting our community.
We published our 2014 sustainability report (PDF, 1.8MB). This provides an overview of our approach to being a responsible business, and how we have been helping people across society to plan, save and invest with confidence for their future.
Standard Life Investments was recognised in the Benchmark Fund of the Year Awards, winning the Capability Award in the Socially Responsible Investment category for the second year running.
Sustainability news 2014
- We held our annual Christmas Appeal which enabled our people to grant 300 wishes through providing donations or gifts to a number of charities.
- We were presented with a Silver Award for our part in the Ministry of Defence Employer Recognition Scheme at the Reserve Forces Employer Awards Dinner at Edinburgh Castle on 4 December. The scheme acknowledges employers who actively support Defence and encourage organisations to adopt the same behaviours in their workplace.
- Through our annual employee Christmas Raffle, we raised over £30,000 for our charity partners. This was our most successful raffle to date.
- Standard Life was presented with the accolade of 'Insurance Company of the Year' at the City A.M. Awards 2014.
- We were named one of 12 social mobility champions by the UK government in recognition of what we do to make sure that people from all walks of life have the chance to access employment opportunities.
- We ran our annual Green Travel Week to encourage our people to change their travel habits and make a more positive environmental impact. Over the week, our people got involved with a number of activities including training on fuel efficient driving, taking the train instead of the plane, talking to local organisations about sustainable travel at the Green Travel Fair, free bike checks and learning about the advantages of collaborative technology.
- For the third year running, Standard Life achieved a top ten finish out of the 1,200 organisations that took part in the Global Corporate Challenge – and came first in our sector. This 16 week challenge encourages people to walk more and increase their daily steps to improve their health.
- We celebrated the first birthday of our LGBT network, which provides a forum for our employees to raise awareness and share perspectives on lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender issues.
- We maintained our position on the FTSE 350 Climate Disclosure Leadership Index (CDLI), which puts us within the top 10 percent of companies who disclose their impact on climate change.
- This month, we signed up our 1,000th new employer to our Good to Go auto enrolment pension proposition. Since auto enrolment began two years ago, we have now helped more than 3,000 employers to set up Qualifying Workplace Pensions Schemes for their employees.
- We have once again been recognised within the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (DJSI) World and Europe which puts us in the top 10 percent and 20 percent respectively of listed sustainable companies in our sector.
- We won the 'Best Customer insight and Feedback - A different perspective' at the UK Customer Experience awards.
- We held interviews for the latest Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme intake.
Our Head of Customer Affairs, Julie Hutchison, became a guest author on popular parenting blog Dadbloguk. Julie looks at such things as the changing priorities of new parents and offers some guidance on planning for your family's future.
- We successfully completed our acquisition of Ignis Asset Management from a subsidiary of Phoenix Group Holdings.
- We launched our green champions network to inspire our colleagues to develop greener habits.
- We announced our new charity partners for the next two years - Scope and Capability Scotland in the UK and Barnardos in Ireland
- We held our Inspiration Awards to recognise the great and inspiring work going on across the company.
- We gained our accreditation as a UK Living Wage employer.
- We won the UK Pensions Awards "Auto-enrolment Innovation of the Year Award" for our Good to Go proposition.
- We signed up to take part in Britain's Healthiest Company 2014. This is an exciting initiative that aims to find out how healthy the nation's workers really are. By taking part we'll find out how healthy our organisation is and more importantly what we can do to support the health and wellbeing of our employees at work.
- We announced the completion of a year-long programme of work to create the first fully unbundled major adviser platform for both existing and new business - meeting the FCA's 2016 deadline two years early. Going forward all new platform business will be in clean, cash rebate-free funds with platform charges clearly disclosed.
- 20 young people joined us for the start of their 6 month placement as part of the Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme.
- We kicked off our charity partner vote with a roadshow supported by our 4 shortlisted charities.
- Standard Life's Big Concert received a Ragan's PR Daily 2013 CSR Award: an Honourable Mention in the Best Stakeholder/Employee Engagement category. The CSR awards recognises organisations' commitment to giving back within their organisation, to their communities or to the nation.
- Standard Life Investments was awarded 'Best-in-Class' for Socially Responsible Investment, at the Benchmark Fund of The Year Awards. This award is dedicated to a sustainability leader in the fund management industry which has succeeded in proving achievement in its Environmental Social and Governance policies.
- We advertised for the next Edinburgh Guarantee Scheme placements for 2014.
- We held our 2014 employee engagement survey, Interaction, to provide our people with the opportunity to have their say about what it is like to work for Standard Life.