A group that advises activist shareholders hopes a new report will do for Indigenous issues what has already been done for environmental causes — put them on the boardroom table.
“The purpose is to start to delve into the issue of the business role in reconciliation and where investors fit in that,” said Delaney Greig, author of the report for SHARE Canada.
SHARE is a non-profit research agency that advises institutional investors on the social responsibility performance of potential investments. It serves 30 such Canadian investors with more than $14 billion in assets under management, including churches, universities and foundations.
Information on environmental performance is becoming routine disclosure for more businesses all the time, said Greig. She looked into how many companies take the same approach to reporting on Aboriginal issues such as leadership, employment, contracting, training, rights and community investment.
The answer is, not many.
“Most of the rating agencies and data sources investors can get don’t even include indicators on Indigenous issues,” said Greig.
She sent out questionnaires to 173 companies listed on the Toronto Stock Exchange in eight different sectors. She found that while many companies tout upbeat stories — whether it be a successful Indigenous employee or a smooth-running partnership with an Aboriginal community — few report those interactions with anything like the rigour ethical investors need.
The most common form of reporting was highlighting a company’s investment in an Aboriginal community, but even then less than one-third of companies systematically made such statements.
Spending money in those communities can be problematic without more context, the report says.