Sustainable & Responsible Investments Report

Fiscal Year 2018

The Amherst College Office of Investments and Investment Committee are committed to a dynamic and ongoing process of inquiry, analysis and engagement with Amherst’s investment partners around environmental, social, and governance considerations.


Portfolio Update

$2.4b

Value of the Amherst College endowment for the fiscal year ending June 30, 2018

100%

Percentage of the College’s managers with whom the Investment Office has engaged about sustainability

40

Proxies voted in alignment with environmental, social, and governance (ESG) principles

0

The portfolio has no direct holdings in coal companies


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Cash Equivalents 3%; Real Estate 1%; Natural Resources 7%; Public Equity 38%; Private Equity 26%; Absolute Return 18%; Fixed Income 7%.

Existing Manager Engagement

Amherst currently has sustaining relationships with 45 investment managers, spanning a range of asset classes.  The Office of Investments and Investment Committee are committed to engaging with our managers.  The College continues to have thoughtful dialogue with its managers around the issue of sustainability, and has incorporated a review of sustainability practices into internal manager write-ups.


Sustainable & Responsible Investment Efforts

  • The College consistently evaluates and votes shareholder proxies in alignment with ESG principles, advocating for corporate accountability with respect to social, ethical, environmental and governance issues.

  • In continued partnership with Ceres, a non-profit organization advocating for sustainability leadership, the College signed onto the Climate Action 100+, a five-year initiative led by investors to engage systemically important greenhouse gas emitters and other companies across the global economy that have significant opportunities to drive the clean energy transition and help achieve the goals of the Paris Agreement.

  • The College engages prospective investment managers in dialogue during the due diligence process to understand their approach and commitment to integrating ESG considerations into their investment process.  Amherst looks to invest with managers who thoughtfully and consistently incorporate ESG factors into their investment diligence and process.


Proxy Voting

The College continues to use the voting rights attached to the shares of companies in which it invests to promote the principles of sustainable and responsible investment, utilizing research from ISS for all proxies before casting votes in alignment with these principles.  In FY 2018, the College voted a total of 40 proxies for directly held stocks within the portfolio.

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Voting Categories: Shareholder Rights and Defenses 9%; Auditor Related 21%; Board of Directors Related 25%; Capital/Corporate Structure 11%; Compensation Issues 27%; ESG 7%.
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ESG Issues: Climate Change/Environment 15%; Labor/Human Rights/Consumer 39%; Political Contributions/Lobbying 46%.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Of these, 15 proxies included various shareholder proposals for a wide range of issues, including reporting on lobbying payments and political spending, requiring independent board chairs, reporting on employment diversity, and reporting on fleet GHG emissions.

There were 13 shareholder proposals specific to ESG issues, all of which the College voted in favor of.

See the Investment Office website for additional information: https://www.amherst.edu/offices/office_of_the_chief_financial_officer/investments


Memberships & Other Engagement

Name

Purpose

Participation

EIRIS

(Conflict Risk Network)

A network of institutional investors, financial service providers and related stakeholders calling on corporations to fulfill their responsibility to respect human rights and to take steps that support peace and stability in areas affected by genocide and mass atrocities. 

Member since 2009

Investor Network on Climate Risk (INCR)

Ceres’ INCR provides a forum for investors to share information, intelligence, experiences and strategies on integrating climate and other ESG factors into investment decision making.

Member since 2015

ISS

ISS researches and provides recommendations for proxy voting in alignment with social and responsible investment principles.

Partner since 2007