Alix Ditisheim, ESG Analyst at Phitrust, was elected Vice-President during our Winter Meeting
Three question to Alix Ditisheim, ESG analyst at Phitrust
Phitrust’s engagement is focused on companies in the French CAC 40 index. In your opinion, what are the main challenges (in terms of ESG criteria) posed by French companies compared to other European companies?
Today, French CAC 40 companies are already very advanced in terms of ESG integration. But this was not the case 20 years ago when we started engaging and discussing with them on these topics. This is due to strong engagement from investors and stringent regulations regarding ESG issues (Pacte Law, Devoir de Vigilance Law, etc.). We still remain vigilant to governance modifications because these can lead to important setbacks regarding ESG practices.
As for other European companies, it depends on the country in which they operate, what the best practices are and what is required by law in that country. An example to illustrate this is France vs. Netherlands. In France, it is obligatory to vote on ‘say-on-pay’ , a vote against requires the company to change its remuneration policy. In the Netherlands, this vote is consultative and does not necessarily bring changes.
Phitrust primarily focuses on governance issues. How do you manage to integrate and address environmental and social issues within the framework of governance?
For us, governance is a means, environmental and social challenges are objectives.
We have always analysed companies from the point of view of their strategic governance. Governance represents a growing and central issue for all the company’s stakeholders. The quality of corporate governance determines a company’s ability to effectively manage the transition of its business model, from a development perspective and while respecting the balance between the various parties involved. Corporate governance has become the key lever for taking action on environmental and social issues.
This is why when we dialogue with a company, we prefer to meet with the Chairman of the Board or Board members. It is the governance institution in charge of a company’s strategy. A company with good governance and a Board that listens to and values its shareholders will be more inclined to implement best practices in terms of environmental and social solutions.
In your view, what are the advantages of a network like SfC compared to other similar initiatives?
A network like SfC is crucial to foster engagement initiatives with like-minded European investors. The size of the initiative makes the collaboration between actors easier. While the diversity and quality of the members brings rich and pertinent engagement ideas to the coalition.