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Interview with ACCR's Dan Gocher

06 June 2018

Interview with ACCR's Dan Gocher

In Morrow Sodali Australia's latest corporate governance newsletter issue, we interviewed Dan Goche, Director of Climate & Environment at the Australian Centre for Corporate Responsibility (ACCR).

The ACCR is a not-for-profit organisation that conducts research on issues of corporate behaviour and assists its members engage with companies on issues that concern them. The ACCR has previously led several public campaigns against large Australian listed companies, generally seeking increased disclosure around human rights and environmental-related issues.

Can you explain what the ACCR does and where the group fits amongst broader corporate governance stakeholders in the Australian market?

ACCR pursues and promotes improvements to large, Australian-listed companies’ environmental, social and governance (ESG) practices. Our power to influence corporate behaviour is premised on two central ideas:
- that a company’s negative impacts on the environment and society can also undermine that company’s interests, and the interests of its shareholders; and
- that although listed corporations are primarily representative democracies, they are also to some extent, participatory democracies.

Given the influence of corporations on our lives and our planet, shareholders have a unique role and responsibility in ensuring the sustainability of our future. The ACCR was established to strengthen responsible investment practices in Australia to this end.

The ACCR does research on ESG issues and engages with listed companies in relation to specific ESG risks. We use shareholder resolutions to escalate engagement with companies, particularly where private investor-corporate engagement has failed to deliver an outcome. Shareholder resolutions are commonplace overseas but are an under-utilised mechanism in Australia. Resolutions are not deployed in every engagement we do, but on some issues, they have proven to be the most effective tool available.

While voting against director re-election or the remuneration report is not uncommon in Australia, these actions are not well tailored to highlighting environmental, social or policy content related governance issues. In many situations, shareholder resolutions are a better way to address ESG underperformance.

Download the attachment below to read the entire interview.

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