Railpen publishes its 2022 member-dedicated sustainable ownership review

Railpen, investment and benefits manager of the £34 billion railways pension schemes, today publishes its 2022 Sustainable Ownership Review, an accessible, member-focused update.

Twilight train image with views over Battersea Power Station

The digestible report, which follows Railpen’s annual Stewardship Report published in May, is intended to feed back directly to members on the work that Railpen has been conducting as sustainable, proactive asset owners on their behalf. To understand what to include within ongoing member communications, Railpen asked members over 2021 and 2022 what areas they are most concerned about when it comes to Sustainable Ownership. The top three concerns identified were:

  • Fair treatment of workers
  • Climate change
  • Fair pay

The report details Railpen’s approach and progress on these topics through its active approach to Sustainable Ownership. It provides case studies of work conducted throughout the year, demonstrating how member capital is invested thoughtfully and responsibly, and how Railpen’s Sustainable Ownership approach ultimately helps to improve outcomes for scheme members.

The report also highlights Railpen’s priority Sustainable Ownership themes – its four thematic stewardship priorities around which much of its company engagement is centred. These are: the climate transition; worth of the workforce; responsible technology; sustainable financial markets.

The 2022 report highlights include:

  • Railpen’s activity to enhance the worker voice – an overview of the activity Railpen has undertaken to provide guidance to companies on workforce reporting and better engagement with their workforces, and to demonstrate the benefits of doing so.
  • Progressing the transparency of climate-related lobbying with NextEra, one of the largest US-based utility companies – using a case study to demonstrate how Railpen engages with companies to provide them with the tools to make positive changes within their business.
  • Using the shareholder vote – at 55% of annual general meetings in 2022 Railpen voted against or refused to support company management, or abstained on at least one resolution.
  • The progress of major collaborative engagement campaigns, including the Railpen-led Investor Coalition for Equal Votes (ICEV) which campaigns for equal voting rights and now has the backing of $2 trillion of global pension fund assets.
  • An outline of plans for the next 12 months, including further engagement with members through another survey in 2023, and face-to-face member roundtables in 2024.

John Chilman, CEO of Railpen, commented: “Our job is to protect and grow the value of our members’ benefits to ensure they can retire securely. We also want to ensure that our investments are sustainable and positively contribute to the world. We do this by investing in companies and assets that we believe have sustainable business models and are well placed to grow in the future.

“The work by our multi-award-winning Sustainable Ownership team is critical to ensuring the assets we are invested in on behalf of members can grow and prosper over the long-term. This means using all of the tools we have available to amplify our voice and push for positive change, to drive real impact on members’ behalf.”

Christine Kernoghan, Chair of The Railway Pensions Trustee, said: “The Trustee’s mission is to pay members’ benefits securely, affordably, and sustainably. As part of this, it is important to understand what our members care about, and to be able to regularly report back to them on how we are considering these topics. Our Sustainable Ownership Review combines data, real stories and the issues which are most important to our members within a compact, accessible report. This report demonstrates our continued commitment to investing responsibly, to be active stewards, and to hold ourselves accountable.”