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ESG 2.0

25 June, 2021

Continuing our recent theme of dialling up the ‘S’ in ESG, some companies are preparing to go further. 

This week, Legal & General announced they will be asking companies to report on ES-‘H’-G credentials, demonstrating what the company is doing to improve health and inequality before investing. L&G, who manage more than £1.3 trillion of pensions and savings, believe it’s time corporates recognise the role of business in addressing health inequalities across the UK, and step up their game.  

We’re delighted to see a company putting inequality on the map alongside climate change, something we’ve long been fighting for. 

The link between health inequalities and social determinants of health has been well-established for some time. The Marmot Review published in 2010 set out six policy objectives to reduce health inequalities, including creating fair employment and good work for all, ensure a healthy standard of living and create healthy and sustainable places.  

Since then, a paper in the Lancet demonstrated lower socio-economic status is a major risk factor to health, alongside more conventional factors such as smoking and an unhealthy diet. And in 2020, the Marmot 10 Years On Review painted a bleak picture: life expectancy has declined for the poorest 10% of women, the health inequality gap has grown between wealthy and deprived areas, and people are more likely to spend more of their lives in poor health.  

Of course, not every business provides a product or service that can directly improve health. However, every business can work towards reducing inequalities, and, indirectly, improve the health of society’s most vulnerable. A company’s own employees is a good place to start, and could include signing up to the real living wage, providing contracted hours when requested or enhancing parental leave. A thriving workforce means a thriving company, and if we all start with these basic principles, we all benefit. 

By Jennie Mitchell

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