SEB's fund management company this week published a list of about 40 additional companies that it intended to exclude when making investments. The news drew great attention and created a lot of positive response, but also negative reactions.
“During the week, we have been in contact with and met several of the companies that were on the list, and in those discussions there has also emerged new information and concrete examples of how companies work to deal with the issues”, says Hans Ek, responsible for sustainability-related questions within Investment Management.
The published exclusion list also came to arouse a polarized political debate.
“The list contributed to SEB being used in political debate on Israel-Palestine. We do not want to go there. We never take political positions, and this casts a shadow over our sustainability efforts. Our investment decisions are based on individual companies and never countries”
That is why SEB’s fund management company is doing a retake and changing ways of working.
“We will deepen dialogue with the companies and further develop our methods and our ways of working. Active commitment and dialogue is our main tool. The debate that took place this week, with a highly political tone, does not benefit that dialogue. Therefore, we have also chosen to remove the actual list of companies that violate norms. We are sorry if customers have been offended.
Does it mean that SEB lowers the ambitions for sustainability?
“No, we still have high ambitions with our sustainability efforts. Basically, we believe in positive commitment and a dialogue with the companies we invest in. But one thing we learned this week is that this process never benefit from a highly polarised political debate. It obscures the whole purpose of our sustainability work”.