Dialogue gives large investors such as PUBLICA an opportunity to express their concerns through direct contact with companies. Since PUBLICA does not have the resources and specialised know-how in house to perform this task itself, it is delegated to two external partners. The partner for dialogue with Swiss companies defines the main topics in conjunction with investors. To this end, an annual meeting is organised at which investors are updated on ongoing dialogue processes, and topics for the new year are proposed and agreed upon. These topics are specifically geared to ESG criteria that are especially relevant to companies based in Switzerland. In the social category, for example, companies have been asked about aspects of employee health, an important issue for Swiss firms working mainly in the service sector. Details of further main topics can be found on Inrate’s website.
Outside Switzerland, PUBLICA relies on the services of SVVK-ASIR, which conducts dialogue with globally active companies on its members’ behalf. The focus is on normative ESG aspects, in other words breaches of international norms recognised by Switzerland such as the UN Global Compact and the OECD guidelines for institutional investors. The dialogue aims to effect a change in the conduct of the companies concerned that is identified as critical during the screening process. It is carried out over a period of one to three years and is not open to the public. The sale of individual investments is considered as a last resort if, despite repeated dialogue, there is no prospect of a positive change in a company’s conduct or if the company is unable, on account of its primary business, to refrain from controversial activities. Further information can be found in SVVK-ASIR’s Engagement Report (in German and French).