Nuveen, the investment manager of TIAA, announced today its areas of focus for its engagement efforts, aimed at achieving its responsible investing objectives. Focus areas identified by the company include climate change, advocating for essential workers impacted by COVID-19, inclusion and diversity, and ESG engagement in fixed income.

Amy O’Brien, Global Head of Responsible Investing, said:

“As both an asset owner and an asset manager, we have long recognized that companies that attend to the issues and needs of their many stakeholders will simply perform better than their peers over the long-term, supporting enduring shareholder value and lasting societal change.

 “As ‘active owners’, we also engage consistently with companies and other issuers to encourage broader adoption of practices and policies for better management of ESG factors.”

On climate change, Nuveen stated that it will proactively plan for climate risk by actively engaging with portfolio companies on climate risk management and supporting shareholder climate proposals that drive meaningful and measurable improvements. Nuveen will also work to improve reporting by asking 80 companies which exhibit inadequate climate risk reporting to produce new materials compatible with the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD).

Under the “Coronavirus and the ‘essential worker’” category, Nuveen’s efforts will focus on raising awareness and advocating for better income, health and safety and greater economic inclusion for essential workers, which often include women and BAME individuals.

On the inclusion and diversity front, the company’s engagement activities will include driving company disclosure on pay gaps and employee demographics across different job levels, addressing controversies over human capital management and promoting diversity on boards and in executive leadership.

Nuveen also said that it will continue expanding its ESG engagements in fixed income, reinforcing the financial materiality of ESG issues, including climate risk disclosure, data privacy and security, and human capital management.

Nuveen unveiled its engagement focus areas along with the release of its 2019/20 Responsible Investing Engagement Report. In the report, Nuveen highlights its activities over the past two years, which included 800 engagements across 598 companies, 170 strategic engagements, and over 1,200 targeted engagements around Women on Boards, Climate Risk and Diversity and Inclusion. The company voted at over 12,000 shareholder meetings with 33% with at least one vote against management. Nuveen was also involved in several advocacy initiatives, including the EU Consultation on Sustainable Finance and on the Green Bond Standard, the Japanese Stewardship Code, and responding to the US Department of Labour Letter’s actions on ESG Investing in ERISA Plans.

Peter Reali, Global Head of Engagement, Responsible Investing at Nuveen, said:

“Active ownership is built on engagement, a function that is critical to realising the benefits of responsible investing on behalf of our clients. Responsible investing gives us the tools, insights and influence to navigate our complex, ever-changing investment landscape. We are proud of our ongoing accomplishments on behalf of our clients but realise too that we must constantly strengthen and extend our commitment to investing responsibly.”