In today’s business landscape, a new paradigm of social consciousness has cemented itself as the foundation of corporations across the globe – one that requires new long-term practices. These practices are transformative, ensuring respect for the environment, the well-being of employees, and the prospects of future generations.
While this may appear a tall order, businesses in every sector are embracing this change, devising new forms of profitability that are ethical and part of a wider movement towards global sustainability. One such business is Refinitiv.
Refinitiv, formerly the Financial & Risk business of Thomson Reuters, is one of the world’s largest providers of financial-markets infrastructure and data. The company’s 160-year Reuters heritage of integrity is paramount, as it continues with its high levels of disruption and sustainable leadership.
“We put sustainability at the heart of what we stand for simply because it’s the right, most important thing to do. After all, this is the biggest threat we all face on the planet,” says Luke Manning, Refinitiv’s global head of sustainability. “People quite rightfully want to know what we stand for as a business, and what role we are playing in dealing with the environmental and social issues ahead of us.”
To this end, Refinitiv looks at sustainability through two lenses,
the first being how it operates as a sustainable business entity and the steps it takes to measure its own impact. Manning says, “Activities that traditionally sat under the corporate responsibility banner now form part of our sustainability strategy and we hold ourselves accountable across a broad range of factors, from efficient use of resources and recycling, through to community and charity support.”
The second lens is the all-encompassing approach driving the company’s sustainable behaviour beyond the boundaries of its own footprint: “Refinitiv is at the heart
of an ecosystem of change makers, empowering investors to shift towards sustainable finance initiatives. We want to make sure we are a responsible business that drives sustainability practices on a wider level, for the greater good of society”.
But, what exactly is “sustainable finance” and how does it entwine with the notion of sustainable leadership? According to Manning, sustainability in the context of finance is about shifting funding to investments that take into account more than just financial considerations: Investments that place value on environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors.
“Our part in this ecosystem of sustainable leaders is to provide the data that allows investment decisions to be made. Data drives clarity and clarity drives decisions. If you don’t have data, all you are really working on is an opinion,” he adds.
Refinitiv’s commitment to this role is unparalleled. The company provides a range of cutting-edge data and risk products to help ensure that sustainable finance becomes a reality. With 400-plus data points covering 8 000 companies that represent
70 percent of the globe’s capitalisation, Refinitiv is the leading supplier of ESG data in the more than 190 countries in which it operates.
Refinitiv also carries information on green bonds, carbon and renewables pricing data, commodities data, and financial crime information, including the screening of supply chains through risk products. It also uses the ESG data it collects to inform its Diversity and Inclusion Index. The annual index measures the relative performance of companies against factors that define diverse and inclusive workspaces.
For South Africa, the company also monitors how companies are doing from a B-BBEE perspective, via its Sustainability page on Eikon.
By partnering with organisations such as the WEF and UN, Refinitiv is in proximity to unique knowledge and expertise, which it leverages as far and as wide as possible when tackling global ESG issues.
“We ensure our data is usable, transparent, and relevant. Refinitiv
is trusted not only to provide this information but to present it in the manner required by its customers – whatever their familiarity with and depth of knowledge of ESG-related metrics are,” says Manning.
When it comes to its own operations, Refinitiv has committed to three global sustainability targets: “We want to continuously lighten our operational footprint. We want to ensure we reflect and support the communities in which we operate, and we want to put sustainability at the heart of our product offering.
“We intend to build on our strong legacy of community investment, be transparent with our environmental commitments and disclosures, foster a culture of openness and inclusion, and leverage the skills of our people to drive social impact”.
A number of global, time-bound, specific, and measurable environmental and social targets are key to making sure Refinitiv is always working to achieve its ideals. These goals include being carbon neutral and 100 percent powered by renewable energy by 2020, reducing carbon emissions by an average of 10 percent per year over the next five years, and committing to doubling its community investment programme engagement by 2020.
According to Manning, one of the most effective aspects of Refinitiv’s sustainability model is the scalability of its data – and its ability to incite change on a wider, collective scope. “The beauty comes in the openness and flexibility of this data, meaning all areas of sustainability can be covered – from our influential partnerships on combating financial crime and human trafficking through to developing our Diversity and Inclusion Index, or providing deep insight on corporate environmental performance.”
“Going back to the concept of sustainable leadership, our role is to be a connector in this ecosystem of change makers actively addressing the world’s environmental and social challenges. A rising tide carries all boats, so we not only develop world-class data and analytics, but also partner with as broad a spectrum of like-minded organisations as possible to deliver maximum impact.”
Refinitiv believes that such collective action is critical to any endeavour of global change and, in this instance, government involvement is a necessity. “Without every one of us playing our own individual part and being conscious of where we are investing our money and what businesses we support, adoption will never reach the tipping point required to make a meaningful impact.”
With more than 2 000 partners, ranging from niche fintech startups to large corporations, and signing up close to 100 new partnerships each year, Refinitiv continually strives to build on its existing expertise and innovation. “Our dynamic combination of data, insight, technology, apps, and news sources allows organisations to make investment decisions in a fast-paced, ever-changing market. Our open ecosystem and focus on high performance continues to be our differentiating factor,” says Manning.
“We will continue to walk the talk and lead the way as a standout responsible business, while also furthering the breadth and depth of our data and platforms to ensure we remain at the heart of the sustainable finance ecosystem.