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ESG: Why inclusion matters – even for astronauts

Investors should look for evidence of inclusion right across a business — even in product design, says Regnan’s head of engagement ALISON EWINGS

IN 2019, NASA planned one small step for women: the first all-female space walk from the International Space Station. But it did not go as planned.

The problem? There weren’t enough medium-sized space suits to go around.

“Truly inclusive decision-making goes beyond the workplace,” says Regnan’s head of engagement, Alison Ewings.

“By broadening the approach to consider customers and society at large, you’re more likely to have products and services that meet the needs of a wider range of people.”

Ewings says it is not uncommon for products and services to be designed without proper consideration of inclusion.

“We’re seeing companies talk about their experience of employing more women only to come across things like no availability of uniforms suitable to be worn when you’re pregnant.

“We’ve seen personal protective equipment the wrong size for women. We’ve seen machinery that cannot be operated by people under a certain height.

“These are product and service decisions made well before a company discusses how to implement a diversity and inclusion program.”

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Beyond employee experience

Taking inclusion beyond the day-to-day employee experience is an important insight for investors.

“Can the impact you have be improved by thinking about how you deliver that more inclusively?” says Ewings.

“So, if you’re a health company, who are you including in your trials?

“For an education provider — if you can reach a broader audience in a developing country, the impact of what you can do about changing those people’s lives is far more significant if you approach the delivery of your product and service with an inclusion lens.

All companies can benefit from taking an inclusion approach to product and service design, says Ewings.

“It can be simple things like supermarkets offering quiet hours for people with autism or older people who find loud noises and bright lights an overwhelming experience.”

And while diversity has been the watchword for businesses seeking to bring broader talent into an organisation, research shows equity and inclusion are the critical factors in realising the performance potential of a diverse workforce.

Regnan’s award-shortlisted research report Beyond diversity: Equity and inclusion as an overlooked opportunity for investors (PDF) found that a focus on diversity without equity and inclusion can undermine the very benefits offered by diversity.

Three inclusion factors

Regnan’s research outlines three inclusion factors that investors should take account of when assessing companies:

  • Equitable employment practices
  • Supportive culture
  • Inclusive decision-making

The benefits of focusing on equity and inclusion within the workplace is equally relevant to the experience of customers and the broader community and is therefore of interest to impact investors, says Ewings.

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“A true focus on inclusion thinks about what it means for decisions that these organisations make and the products and services that they offer.”

Organisations that embrace equity and inclusion can apply these skills to their core operations unlocking opportunities to positively impact a wider constituency, and potentially with greater potency.

A more intentionally inclusive approach to problem solving also enhances the pool of ideas for how to tackle major societal challenges, she says.


About Alison Ewings

Alison is Head of Engagement at responsible investing leader Regnan. Regnan is a Pendal Group business.

Alison manages Regnan’s program of engagement with ASX-listed companies, which aims to help improve business performance by addressing issues such as climate change, modern slavery and Indigenous relations.

Alison has worked in sustainability for more than a decade and was formerly the Head of Sustainability at Westpac.


About Regnan

Regnan is a responsible investment leader with a long and proud history of providing insight and advice to investors with an interest in long-term, broad-based or values-aligned performance.

Building on that expertise, in 2019 Regnan expanded into responsible investment funds management, backed by the considerable resources of Pendal Group.

The Regnan Global Equity Impact Solutions Fund invests in mission-driven companies we believe are well placed to solve the world’s biggest problems.

The Regnan Credit Impact Trust (available in Australia only) invests in cash, fixed and floating rate securities where the proceeds create positive environmental and social change. Both funds are distributed by Pendal in Australia.

Visit Regnan.com

Find out about Regnan Global Equity Impact Solutions Fund

Find out about Regnan Credit Impact Trust

For more information on these and other responsible investing strategies, contact Head of Regnan and Responsible Investment Distribution Jeremy Dean at jeremy.dean@regnan.com.


This information has been prepared by Pendal Fund Services Limited (PFSL) ABN 13 161 249 332, AFSL No 431426 and is current at August 25, 2022. PFSL is the responsible entity and issuer of units in the Regnan Global Equity Impact Solutions Fund (Fund) ARSN: 645 981 853. A product disclosure statement (PDS) is available for the Fund and can be obtained by calling 1300 346 821 or visiting www.pendalgroup.com. The Target Market Determination (TMD) for the Fund is available at www.pendalgroup.com/ddo. You should obtain and consider the PDS and the TMD before deciding whether to acquire, continue to hold or dispose of units in the Fund. An investment in the Fund or any of the funds referred to in this web page is subject to investment risk, including possible delays in repayment of withdrawal proceeds and loss of income and principal invested. This information is for general purposes only, should not be considered as a comprehensive statement on any matter and should not be relied upon as such. It has been prepared without taking into account any recipient’s personal objectives, financial situation or needs. Because of this, recipients should, before acting on this information, consider its appropriateness having regard to their individual objectives, financial situation and needs. This information is not to be regarded as a securities recommendation. The information may contain material provided by third parties, is given in good faith and has been derived from sources believed to be accurate as at its issue date. While such material is published with necessary permission, and while all reasonable care has been taken to ensure that the information is complete and correct, to the maximum extent permitted by law neither PFSL nor any company in the Pendal group accepts any responsibility or liability for the accuracy or completeness of this information. Performance figures are calculated in accordance with the Financial Services Council (FSC) standards. Performance data (post-fee) assumes reinvestment of distributions and is calculated using exit prices, net of management costs. Performance data (pre-fee) is calculated by adding back management costs to the post-fee performance. Past performance is not a reliable indicator of future performance. Any projections are predictive only and should not be relied upon when making an investment decision or recommendation. Whilst we have used every effort to ensure that the assumptions on which the projections are based are reasonable, the projections may be based on incorrect assumptions or may not take into account known or unknown risks and uncertainties. The actual results may differ materially from these projections. For more information, please call Customer Relations on 1300 346 821 8am to 6pm (Sydney time) or visit our website www.pendalgroup.com

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