Our management approach
- 1.1. Our commitment
As a patrimonial and active investor, GBL believes that responsible management is key to fulﬁl its role as a professional shareholder in order to ensure its best interests of its shareholders, translating into long-term sustainable growth in earnings and dividends from its portfolio assets and long-term value creation.
While GBL’s main concern is to carry out proﬁtable and sustainable activities, it must also play a role within the broader society in which it operates. Given the essential link between successful business and strong communities, GBL’s responsible management approach must beneﬁt all stakeholders.
- 1.2. Our responsible management approach
Environmental, social and governance (“ESG”) considerations are fundamental to the way GBL conducts business, not only in its investment activities, but also as a company, and notably an employer and a contributor to the communities in which it operates.
As a responsible company
The group has a long history of being a responsible employer and consistently demonstrates integrity and high ethical standards. As an investment holding company, without any production or distribution operations and with a limited headcount below 50 people, GBL’s own impact in terms of social and environmental factors is limited. However, responsible management is an intrinsic corporate value at GBL.
As a responsible investor
GBL recognizes its ESG responsibilities through its investment decisions and its portfolio monitoring, i.e. at the portfolio level. GBL thus takes an active ownership approach in the companies in which it invests and ensures through their governance bodies that its investments continue to be managed in a manner consistent with its responsible management philosophy. GBL therefore invests in companies that share its principles and commitment with regards to the imperative need to behave responsibly and ethically and serve the whole of the community.
- 1.3. Policies and reporting framework
As a long-term listed investor, GBL has developed (i) an ESG Statement, (ii) a Diversity & Inclusion Policy, (iii) a Code of Ethics and (iv) a Corporate Governance Charter (the “Charter”).
- The ESG Statement reﬂects the core values that guide GBL and its Executive Management as a company and as an investor on environmental, social and governance issues. It presents the company’s commitments and implementation guidelines regarding all three ESG pillars and constitutes the base of our reporting.
- The Diversity & Inclusion policy supports and facilitates at GBL a diverse and inclusive environment that embraces differences and recognizes their beneﬁts. These differences can be age, gender (identity), sexual orientation, disability, ethnicity, cultural and religious backgrounds and other areas of potential difference.
- The Code of Ethics provides guidance in conducting business activities in accordance with the highest legal, ethical and professional standards. It is made available to all employees and members of the Board of Directors (the “Directors”), and covers compliance, responsible management, conﬂicts of interest, anti-corruption and anti-bribery, relations with third parties, respect at work and non-discrimination.
- GBL has adopted the Charter that brings together all of the company’s corporate governance rules and particularly the principles governing the conduct of GBL’s Directors and its specialised committees, as well as these bodies’ operating rules. This document also includes the dealing code, which deﬁnes the rules applicable to transactions in GBL shares (the “Dealing Code”).
GBL is committed to responsible communication and transparency towards its stakeholders. The ESG Statement and the Charter are available on its website and form the reference framework applicable to GBL and its holdings.
GBL’s non-ﬁnancial reporting is inspired by the UN Global Compact framework, which sets out the principles on Human Rights, Labour, Environment and Anti-Corruption.
- 1.4. Responsibilities
Co-CEOs and the Board of Directors
The Board of Directors reviews and approves the ESG strategic orientations, performance and reporting, whilst:
- the Co-CEOs are responsible for the monitoring of the compliance with the ESG Statement through a yearly assessment of the performance and efﬁciency of the actions undertaken to pursue GBL’s long-term commitments and objectives; and
- the Audit Committee reviews and assesses on a yearly basis the risks inherent to GBL.
The formal responsibility for the ESG program has been delegated to the General Secretary who is the assigned “ESG Lead”. The latter is supported by all the corporate functions responsible for executing the ESG program, i.e. primarily:
- the legal and human resources departments in charge of social and governance matters at GBL holding level;
- the investment team in charge of deploying the ESG program at each stage of the investment cycle; and
- the communication team.
- 1.5. Scope
GBL’s ESG approach described in this section applies to Groupe Bruxelles Lambert and its subsidiaries:
- whose principal activities are investing, reinvesting, owning, holding, managing or trading in shareholdings in other companies, or proposing to do so, and/or engaging in treasury management activities;
- other than Sienna Capital’s direct or indirect subsidiaries;
together being the “GBL group” or “GBL”.
This consequently excludes from the considered scope (the “ESG Scope”):
- the participations of GBL’s portfolio (whether controlled or not) into which GBL is an active shareholder through their governance bodies; and
- all the investment fund managers into which Sienna Capital invests.
Those companies identify and address their ESG impacts and associated risks within the framework of their own internal control.
The next section provides an overview of the key sustainability commitments of GBL’s portfolio companies, and notably their long-term vision and strategy.
We highlight the fact that the European Directive on non-ﬁnancial reporting (transposed into Belgian law on 3 September 2017) covers the GBL group and its consolidated operating activities (detailed in page 92 of the 2017 Annual Report). As the consolidated operating activities are excluded from the ESG Scope (see above), please refer to their own ESG analysis and reporting on their website:
- Key ESG commitments of portfolio companies
As highlighted before, the portfolio companies identify and address their ESG impact and associated risks within the framework of their own internal control.
Summarised below are their strategic commitments and objectives in the ESG ﬁeld, as well as their CDP scoring (when available). The CDP (formerly Carbon Disclosure Project) is a not-for-proﬁt organisation which supports companies and cities to disclose their environmental impact with the aim of building a more sustainable economy through in-depth understanding and measurement of environmental impacts. The CDP is recognized as a leading and powerful tool used by investors and analysts when assessing environmental performance and sustainability programs put in place by companies.
ESG commitments Yearly ESG reporting CDP score at 31/12/17 Additional information (web link) Corporate Social Responsibility has been identiﬁed as an essential element of the company’s long-term strategy as a support to growth by reducing risks, unlocking opportunities and building capacity for long term value creation. It includes ESG elements around six pillars: business conduct, product management, human capital, safety and health, climate change and natural resources management. Yes B link The company based its 2020 Sustainability ambitions around 4 pillars: professional excellence, people, environment and community. Yes B link The LafargeHolcim sustainability strategy - the 2030 Plan - has been built around 4 pillars and embraces ESG elements such as climate, circular economy, water & nature, people and communities. Yes A- link The company’s strategy is deﬁned around a consumer-centric strategic model, which is based on 4 Essentials & 4 Accelerators. One of the essentials is Sustainability & Responsibility. This essential is seen as an integral part of business and is based around 4 commitments, all linked to ESG topics: to promote responsible drinking, to develop communities and engage partners, to empower employees and to protect the planet. Yes B link 2 pillars and 6 strategic priorities for 2020 have been defined and include environmental product targets, people empowerment and health targets, directly related and in line with ESG concepts. Yes Climate: B
link Umicore commits to ethical and sustainable sourcing and plays a key role in the transition to a low-carbon society, by producing rechargeable battery materials for EVs and catalysts for reducing transport and industrial emissions, and contributing to resource stewardship by recycling metals and end-of-life products in a closed loop. Yes Not disclosed link The company’s ambition is to become the responsible energy major and is articulated around 3 pillars (“Supplying Energy that Contributes to Economic and Social Development”, “Integrating Climate Into our Strategy”, and “Continually Reinventing the Customer Relationship”) which translate into 3 objectives to be met over the next 20 years and are directly linked to ESG topics. Yes A- link Burberry has defined goals for 2022 based around 3 headlines: positively impact 1 million people, drive positive change through all products, and be carbon neutral and revalue waste. These 3 axes (communities, product and company) encompass aspects related to all 3 ESG pillars. Yes Climate: A-
link Three pillars (responsible production, sustainable growth and people at the heart) have been defined within 2020 sustainability commitments. Yes C link ESG topics are an integral part of GEA’s vision and values, with the efficient use of energy resources being part of the company’s vision statement and integrity, responsibility and diversity included in its values. Yes C link The group summarizes its main values in its 5S policy: safety, services, sales, savings and smile. ESG aspects are not specifically identified as such but included in those values and in accordance with Parques Reunidos’ CSR policy. In progress n.a. link