Frequently Asked Questions

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Background and approach

What is IAST APAC?

Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific (IAST APAC) is an investor-led multistakeholder initiative convened to promote effective action among companies in the Asia-Pacific region to ‘find, fix and prevent’ modern slavery, labour exploitation, and human trafficking in their value chains.

IAST APAC focuses on encouraging companies to address a simple question: what slavery risks have you addressed?

To answer that question, companies are encouraged to:

  • Find It – proactively search their supply chain for modern slavery risks
  • Fix It – address those risks and remedy harms to those affected
  • Prevent It – work to ensure the situation doesn’t continue.

The initiative also aims to strengthen reporting under relevant disclosure regimes such as the Australian Modern Slavery Act. The aim is to ensure that companies report in a meaningful way, and take effective action to identify and address modern slavery, human trafficking and labour exploitation issues.

Across the Asia-Pacific region, IAST APAC participants will work together to foster good practice in investor engagement with companies exposed to modern slavery risks.

Number of investors

36 members

$AUM Represented

AU$7.7 trillion

Number of Focus Companies

There are 25 focus companies. Fifteen companies are listed on the Australian stock exchange, and 10 companies are listed on Asian stock exchanges – two companies are listed in the Hong Kong and India stock exchanges, and one company each is listed on the Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Philippines, Singapore and Taiwan stock exchanges.

Membership

Who can become a member of IAST APAC?

Membership to the initiative is open to all asset owners and asset managers with an office in the Asia-Pacific region.

What is expected of investors that join IAST?

Participating investors can contribute to two work streams.

The first work stream initially focused on an investor statement on modern slavery, human trafficking and labour exploitation. This investor statement was published for the first time in 2020. The statement was distributed to the largest Australian-listed companies, informing them of these investors’ expectations. The statement described the material impacts of modern slavery and poor labour practices on companies and long-term value outcomes and invites companies to adopt certain best practices.  This work stream is now exploring policy advocacy.

The second work stream is the collaborative engagement work stream. The focus is collaborative engagement by participating investors with specific focus companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Collaborative engagement aims to maximise leverage, generate efficiencies and build knowledge. Investors can join this work stream as either a lead or support investor, within small group collaborations engaging different focus companies.

Work stream 1: Policy advocacy

What is Work stream 1?

The first work stream initially focused on an investor statement on modern slavery, human trafficking and labour exploitation. This investor statement was published for the first time in 2020. The statement was distributed to the largest Australian-listed companies, informing them of these investors’ expectations. The statement described the material impacts of modern slavery and poor labour practices on companies and long-term value outcomes and invites companies to adopt certain best practices.  This work stream is now exploring policy advocacy.

What activity has happened so far and what is planned in Work stream 1?

The investor statement was published in July 2020. It was sent to the 200 largest companies listed on the ASX, and they were invited to respond. You can read the investor statement here: investor statement

What will members joining Work stream 1 be expected to do?

Members can identify policy advocacy opportunities in relation to relevant laws and regulations such as transparency in supply chain, human rights due diligence and sustainability reporting, and discuss developing joint advocacy positions and strategies.

Work stream 2: Collaborative engagement

What is Work stream 2?

The second work stream is the collaborative engagement work stream. The focus is collaborative engagement by investors with specific focus companies in the Asia-Pacific region. Collaborative engagement aims to maximise leverage, generate efficiencies and build knowledge. Investors can join this work stream as either a lead or support investor, within small group collaborations engaging different focus companies.

Participating investors have selected four initial focus sectors:

  • Consumer discretionary
  • Consumer staples
  • Technology
  • Healthcare.

Extractives will be the next focus sector added, at a later date.

How were these focus sectors and focus companies chosen?

Participating investors were surveyed to identify companies they believed should be prioritised, based on potential risk exposure and investor holdings. Selection is not indicative of perceived poor performance. Rather, the list of focus companies includes companies with a variety of risk exposures and histories of response to this risk.

We note that the list of focus sectors and companies may expand as new investors are welcomed into IAST APAC.

How many companies can each investor lead/support?

There is no limit on the number of focus companies investors can lead or support engagement on, however we do encourage investors to think critically about their capacity to participate. We expect investors in all capacities to take an active approach to their participation in IAST APAC and contribute to all elements of the engagement.

How are investors engaging with focus companies?

Investors engage with companies in small groups, comprising a lead investor and up to five support investors. These small groups develop engagement plans and then work with the focus company to address the issues raised in the engagement plan. These are expected to be multi-year engagements.

What aspects of engagement will be publicly disclosed?

Public reporting on our engagement activities and outcomes will be provided on a periodic basis through the IAST APAC website and annual report. Reporting will identify major trends, rather than details of engagement between investors and focus companies, which will remain commercial-in-confidence. Which participating investors engage which focus companies will also not be publicly disclosed.

Governance

How is the initiative managed/governed?

IAST APAC is an investor-led initiative. It is convened by First Sentier Investors, and overseen by a steering committee:

  • First Sentier Investors (Chair)
  • Ausbil Investment Management
  • Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI)
  • AustralianSuper
  • Aware Super
  • Fidelity International
  • Walk Free (as Knowledge Partner and Secretariat), and
  • Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) initiative (as Knowledge Partner).

The work streams are organised by the SteerCo, and chaired by its members:

  • Work stream 1 Co-Chairs: Måns Carlsson-Sweeney (Ausbil), Liza McDonald (Aware).
  • Work stream 2 Co-Chairs: Sandra Silea (Australian Super), Gabriel Wilson-Otto (Fidelity).

Formal terms of reference, available to members of IAST APAC, govern each of these groups.

What is the role of the Secretariat?

The Secretariat, provided by Walk Free, provides administrative support. Walk Free and FAST serve as a knowledge partners to IAST APAC members. This includes facilitating access by IAST APAC to relevant information, events and expertise to support effective engagement with companies in the region.

How can civil society engage with IAST APAC?

Please contact the Secretariat.

Other questions

What impacts has the initiative had?

The initiative was launched in late 2020. Since then IAST APAC has been cited as a leading example of collaborative investor engagement by the Australian Human Rights Commission, Australian Sustainable Finance Initiative Roadmap, and policy processes in the US and UK. One third of the ASX100 has responded formally to the investor statement as of May 2021. Engagements under Work stream 2 began in the third quarter of 2021. Additional information on impact will be made available in our annual report.

More information

Asset owners and asset managers in the Asia-Pacific region interested in joining IAST APAC should contact the Secretariat.