Potential for Australia to be global leader on social governance

There is potential for Australia to be a world leader in setting the standards on social governance, according to a panel.

Speaking at the Australian Superannuation Investment conference, held by the Australian Institute of Superannuation Trustees (AIST) in the Gold Coast, Kate Griffiths, executive manager of policy and research at the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) said she was receiving interest from overseas investors in social governance.

This had escalated since the Rio Tinto/Juukan Gorge crisis in 2020.

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“There is an opportunity for Australia to lead the world in this. We are seeing significant interest from international investors who are asking us ‘how did Juukan Gorge happen?’ and they want to know what’s being done about it.

“There is an opportunity for Australia to set the standard and lead the world and work collaboratively on a framework that can work across multiple jurisdictions.”

Serena Grant, head of business engagement at the human rights organisation Walk Free Minderoo Foundation, said there were three areas that needed improvement for superannuation funds. These were stronger laws to compel firms to make more disclosure, innovation in technology solutions to manage risks and to explore how companies are translating social governance risks.

“Investors need to play a big role in translating these risks, what do they do when they see two companies where one is a leader and is managing its risk well and then the other is putting its head in the sand, then how do you value that?”

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