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Investment Institute

COVID-19: Investors find new ways to drive positive social outcomes

  • 11 December 2020 (5 min read)

Key points

  • The COVID-19 pandemic has put corporate ESG practices in the spotlight. Fresh attention has fallen on social issues such as public health, human capital management and societal inequalities
  • This has led more stakeholders to ask how investments can be made with positive social outcomes and impacts
  • In this paper, we look at the various approaches AXA IM has adopted to help our clients achieve these objectives
  • We believe investors can drive positive social outcomes through investment in different asset classes and can deliver impact through engagement and voting

The COVID-19 pandemic has become a test of companies’ sustainability credentials. It has served to sharpen public and investor scrutiny of environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices and we have observed that this has particularly involved a more intense focus on the ‘social’ component.

It should be no great surprise. The social pillar in ESG includes a wide range of issues that came to the fore as the effects of the virus and accompanying lockdown measures took hold. The pandemic has exposed concerns about employee treatment, supply chain management, gender inequality, ethnic diversity, global health, education, data privacy and more.

In this context, we have seen a spike in stakeholder interest about investments that can drive positive social outcomes. This has been with a view to the short term objective of improving the situation related to the public health emergency as well as the long-term objective of helping develop a more pandemic-resilient society. This also feeds into the wider desire to make decisive progress towards the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals1 .

In this paper, we will highlight a series of approaches adopted by AXA IM and address some of the challenges and opportunities presented.

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