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Socially Responsible Investment Policy

UNIVERSITY OF WARWICK

Socially Responsible Investment Policy 2021

  1. Introduction

The University of Warwick is committed to ensuring that it makes investment decisions responsibly and with integrity, having due regard to ethical, social, environmental and governance issues.

This policy for Socially Responsible Investment (“SRI”) has been developed to allow the University to pursue an ethical approach while minimising any negative impact on its investment returns. Investment decisions informed by socially responsible and ethical considerations will also take into account the Charity Commission position that trustees have a duty to maximise returns on investment for charitable benefit.

  1. The need for a Socially Responsible Investment Policy

The University considers that environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) factors have a material impact on investment risk and that good stewardship can create and preserve value for the longer term.

The University is mindful of the need to reduce and, ideally, eliminate, corporate behaviour leading to:

  • environmental degradation
  • armament sales to military regimes
  • human rights violations
  • the institutionalisation of poverty through discriminatory market practices
  • racial or sexual discrimination
  • tobacco production, cultivation and manufacture
  • the exploitation of workers, and
  • the giving or receiving of bribes.

This will also include consideration of the University’s obligations under the Modern Slavery Act.

  1. Our Investment Approach

The University of Warwick will use all reasonable endeavours to ensure that it operates its investment policy in a way that is consistent with the aims listed above in the context of the trustees’ duty to maximise returns. The University will look to its professional investment managers, in the first instance, to use their resources and expertise in the assessment of investment opportunities to assist in this process. Utilising the specialist knowledge of the investment managers will provide the University with the opportunity to make a positive contribution towards sustainability including alternative technologies in its investment portfolio.

Currently, the University holds its investment assets in the University Investment Fund (“UIF”) and endowment donations in the University Endowment Fund (“UEF”). These Funds are managed by Rathbone Greenbank and Rathbones, who have a responsible investment policy that aims to integrate a consideration of environmental, social and governance issues into the investment process. Information on Rathbones’ approach to responsible investment is available at: Responsible investing | Rathbone Investment Management (rathbones.com)

The University will ensure that its own procedures fulfil the following aims:

  • to avoid direct investment in companies that have activities inconsistent with the educational and/or research objectives of the University.
  • to consider environmental and social issues, as set out above, when making an investment in a company, in the belief that socially sustainable companies are more likely to be successful in the long run.
  • to actively engage with companies through our investment managers to encourage best practice in environmental, social and ethical standards.
  • to ensure that the University’s investment managers themselves have a socially responsible investment policy that ensures environmental and social issues are considered.
  • to regularly monitor the University's investments and the procedures for reviewing investment proposals to ensure that its ethical standards are maintained.

The above aims will be reviewed on a regular basis by the University’s Investment Sub Committee. The University will not knowingly invest in companies involved in fossil fuel extraction or production.

Where investments are made by third party fund managers in pooled funds or similar vehicles, the University’s requirement is that wherever practicable, the funds in question should seek to avoid direct investment in companies that fall within the exclusions in its SRI policy. The University’s investment managers will actively screen collective investments to ensure the funds meet with this SRI Policy, in particular excluding:

  • companies involved in the production, cultivation and manufacture of tobacco, in recognition of the conflict with the University’s medical research objectives; and
  • companies involved in the extraction of thermal coal, the production of oil from tar sands or the extraction of petroleum.

The University does, however, recognise that where investments are made in index-related securities, it is not practicable at present (to a degree that is consistent with the trustees’ duty to maximise returns) to pursue an investment strategy where no indirect investment in such companies arises. The Investment Sub-Committee will at least once a year review the University’s investment in index-related securities to see if alternative index-related securities that exclude companies that fall within the University’s SRI policy can be used without being materially to the detriment of expected investment returns.

The funds of the University of Warwick pension scheme do not belong to the University: the investment of these funds is the responsibility of the scheme’s trustees.

[Reviewed January 2021]