University Gazette, 11 May 2006: University Agenda
CONGREGATION 20 May 2.30 p.m.
Conferment of Honorary Degree
The Degree of Master of Arts, honoris causa, approved by Resolution of Congregation on 25 April 2006, will be conferred upon MR NEIL BUTTERFIELD (BA, MA Birmingham).
CONGREGATION 30 May 2 p.m.¶ Members of Congregation are reminded that written notice of any intention to vote against, or any proposed amendment to, the legislative proposals at item 1 or the resolution at item 2 below, signed in each case by at least two members of Congregation, must be given to the Registrar by noon on Monday, 22 May (see note on the conduct of business in Congregation).
2 Voting on Resolution
Text of Resolution
(i) That the University should consider the social, moral and environmental impact of its investment decisions alongside concerns for the maximization of financial returns.
(ii) That Oxford University should agree a credible Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) policy.
(iii) That a credible SRI policy will take into account the impact of the actions of companies on all stakeholders, and will be backed up by a strategy for engagement or screening (divestment).
(i) That the University Investment Committee manages over £400m of University and college funds and endowments (through the Trusts Pool).
(ii) That the sole social consideration currently included in University Investment policy states that the Investment Committee should 'instruct fund managers to pursue the adoption of the core principles contained within [the Good Corporation Charter], when speaking to companies in which they are investing'.
(iii) That the Good Corporation Charter (GCC) is a voluntary Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) tool for self-assessment that gives no consideration to stakeholders other than a company's shareholders and employees. It therefore fails to constitute a credible approach to Socially Responsible Investment (SRI).
(iv) That adopting a Socially Responsible Investment policy does not involve sacrificing financial returns. Recent studies have shown no difference between the overall performance of funds with SRI criteria as against non-SRI funds, and many SRI funds outperform the non-SRI average.
Congregation further notes:
(i) There are a wide range of effective mechanisms for implementing a credible Socially Responsible Investment policy, and incorporating and balancing social, moral and environmental criteria alongside financial considerations. These include the selection of specific ethically managed funds, the screening of investments based on accepted industry standards such as the FTSE4Good Index or the use of customized ethical portfolio management software from organizations such as the Ethical Investment Research Service (EIRiS).
(ii) In the UK, SOAS, UEA and Edinburgh Universities, and the Universities Superannuation Scheme (USS) have implemented SRI policies without financial detriment. SRI policies have also been adopted in the United States by many Ivy League Universities including Columbia, Yale, Harvard, Dartmouth College and the University of Pennsylvania.
Congregation resolves to mandate the University Council to:
(i) Seek advice from independent consultants on the range of SRI options available and their financial implications.
(ii) On the basis of this advice, develop a clear and credible Socially Responsive Investment policy setting out standards that specifically take into account the impact of company behaviour on all stakeholders and the environment.
(iii) Bring forward a resolution to establish a Joint Committee on Socially Responsible Investment, with junior and senior representatives of the University community. This committee should periodically review and assess the university's investments against its defined SRI policy and make recommendations to University Council and Investments Committee for future investment policy and decision-making.
(iv) Publish suitable details of University Investments on an annual basis and report on the action that has been taken to ensure compliance with the SRI policy developed.
Dr Nick Brown, Linacre College