Research by the Association of Investors for Sustainable Development (VBDO) shows that the largest Dutch pension funds still pay insufficient attention to the theme of living wage. 39 of the 50 largest pension funds participated in this study and 85% of the living wage did not include them in the responsible investment policy.
The study Living Wage: Challenges to overcome, looks at how Dutch pension funds deal with the theme of living wage. The most important conclusion is that although pension funds recognize living wage as an important issue, the large majority indicates that many challenges stand in the way of implementation in the responsible investment policy. Only 15% of the pension funds studied have explicitly included living wage in the policy.
26% of the pension funds surveyed indicated that a clear, generally accepted definition of living wage is still lacking. A further 26% pointed to the lack of (inter) national standards and guidelines. 5% indicated that the provision of information on this theme should be improved. The VBDO also investigated which instruments were used most. 23% of pension funds indicated that living wage is one of the criteria for exclusion, but it is unclear how many pension funds actually exclude on the basis of this criterion. A second frequently used instrument is engagement. 21% of the participating pension funds carry out demonstrable engagement on this subject. A further 18% indicates that living wage is included in the selection of companies for engagement. 55% of engagement also found the most effective means to raise living wage.
The VBDO is of the opinion that pension funds should put in the knowledge and resources that they possess, instead of staying in the discussion about the challenges. The VBDO recommends more cooperation and transparency.
By entering into a dialogue, pension funds can motivate companies to be more transparent about wages in their chain and to report on this more clearly. Pension funds can also be more transparent about how they shape their policies on living wages and thus serve as an example for other pension funds.
The challenges related to living wage can only be brought about through cooperation. In addition to mutual cooperation between pension funds, pension funds can also work more closely with trade unions and NGOs, often with the knowledge of local labor rights, which is often lacking among pension funds and companies. With such partnerships, pension funds have the power to steer towards more guidelines and criteria for living wage. The bundling of such forces can have a perceptible positive effect on the lives of millions of workers worldwide.