A coalition of City institutions representing nearly £400bn
in combined assets is to launch a CSR communications campaign to raise
investor awareness of human rights abuses in Burma.
The eight-strong group - which includes the Co-operative Insurance
Society, Morley Fund Management and Jupiter Asset Management - called on
shareholders to look at the risks associated with investing in
Financial services PR firm Penrose Financial has been drafted in to help
develop and run the CSR initiative.
Penrose, working on behalf of retained client Morley, is tasked with
raising awareness of the human rights issues in the country, known to
its ruling junta as Myanmar, and driving home messages of the risks to
The group claims companies operating in unstable political climates such
as Burma can be exposed to falling shareholder confidence, negative
press and publicity campaigns, safety risks and corruption.
Just one week after issuing the statement, entitled 'Business
Involvement in Myanmar - A statement from Institutional Investors,'
companies have been responding to the campaign.
Food and drink giant Nestle this week issued a statement outlining its
positive activities in the country, claiming the firm is active in
health and food safety and in skills training for local residents.
Morley company analyst Fiona Cuthbert, who is part of the firm's
socially responsible investment (SRI) team, said a large part of the
campaign involved raising awareness of the human rights issues and
strict military regime in Burma.
'All our work really is educating people so we want to keep our
communications campaign ongoing and get our messages out there,' said
'People don't realise the extent of the situation in Burma and we wanted
to take a serious angle on it with the business link,' she added.
Penrose is targeting both IR heads in companies and a range of media,
including environmental and oil correspondents, newswires and the
pension trade press. The account is led by Penrose account manager
Although the group of institutions is not planning to 'name and shame'
companies that operate in the country, many of the companies rate firms
in which they invest from an SRI point of view.
The group recommends firms that invest or have business relationships in
Burma should publish an independent social impact assessment, set up or
inform investors on policy and procedures for managing risks, make a
commitment to promote human rights and collaborate with respected NGOs.