Conducting a dialogue with companies is an important component of the responsible investment policy at Achmea. We call this engagement. Achmea has an extensive engagement programme containing a wide range of themes in different engagement processes. We distinguish between two types of engagement: normative engagement and thematic engagement.
The aim of the normative engagement programme is to stop or prevent structural violations of international standards. Structural violations of these standards increase the risk of adverse impacts for the company, its immediate surroundings, such as local communities or the environment, and other stakeholders. Activities that (may) lead to a violation of international standards often attract the attention of non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and the media. In practice, these violations often result in court cases, which can result in companies having to pay fines or compensation. These are direct adverse financial impacts that harm the interests of shareholders. If the company fails to stop violating standards and is no longer open to dialogue, it may be excluded from investment and placed on the exclusion list.
The thematic engagement programme has a different target group than its normative engagement counterpart. Here the focus is not on companies that violate standards but on those companies that can improve their financial and social performance on specific themes. Engagement is conducted in those themes that are aligned with Achmea’s key themes. As of mid-2022, Achmea is actively conducting seventeen engagements on a range of themes with companies around the globe. These vary from good and accesible medicine, climate and biodiversity to healthy food. Information on this can be found in our SRI half year reports.
We have translated the (international) treaties and initiatives we apply in the investment process into our Engagement Guidelines. These contain tangible normative rules that we use as a basis for conducting engagement with companies. Here we make use of both general and sector-specific guidelines.
Achmea applies an escalation strategy in the event that an engagement with a company from the engagement programmes makes insufficient progress. Once some time has elapsed and after several escalation steps have failed to yield sufficient results, the company may be excluded from investment.