At Media Super, we believe well-governed companies that manage material1 environmental, social and governance (ESG) risks and opportunities in their operations and supply chains, such as those that impact employees, suppliers, customers, communities and the environment, will protect assets and grow our members’ retirement savings over the long term.
1 Material ESG risks and opportunities are those that are likely to affect business or investment performance.
How we approach responsible investing
Our approach considers how ESG risks and opportunities that we regard as ‘material’ or highly likely to affect business or investment performance, are managed. We seek to integrate these risks and opportunities as one input into our investment processes when making investment decisions and choosing to invest in a company, or an asset or through an external investment manager. We then monitor ESG performance over time. We aim to take a ‘whole of fund’ approach, incorporating ESG risks and opportunities across investment decisions rather than only applying them to a stand-alone ethical or socially responsible investment option.
Our key beliefs
- We act in our members' best interest
- We aim to apply a 'whole of fund' approach across our total portfolio
- We advocate for a more sustainable future
Many of our members won’t be looking to retire for another 20 to 30 years. Investing responsibly is not only important for our members’ long-term returns, but also to help safeguard their quality of life in retirement.
Our key areas of focus
We have identified several key areas of focus: climate change and the energy transition and human, community, labour rights (for example modern slavery and workplace safety) as well as investing in the real economy. These areas of focus represent systemic risks, are aligned with our members' interests, and are topics where we believe we can measure, engage and report on our progress.
Climate change and the energy transition
We believe that climate change is one of the most significant challenges we face as a society today, and that tackling climate change needs to be done collaboratively with a focus on real world impact. Our aim ultimately is to support the energy transition, and in doing so, help ensure the transition is as orderly as possible so that our members' benefits are protected.
We have developed a Climate Change Position Statement (PDF), which helps guide the integration of climate change considerations within our broader investment framework. We have a range of climate change goals which include:
- Net zero emissions by 2050
- Contribute to a 45% reduction in real world emissions by 2030
- 1% of our total funds under management (FUM) is available to be allocated to climate related investments
- Engage with our highest Australian listed equity companies who contribute most to our carbon footprint to improve their responses to climate change
These goals currently cover over 70% of our portfolio and work continues to expand our coverage to include additional asset classes. Find out more detailed information about our climate change goals. We have previously been certified as carbon neutral for FY19, FY20, and FY21 and you can view our previous carbon neutral certificates.
Our third Climate Change Roadmap (PDF) sets out our key climate change activities to 2024. In line with this roadmap we are in the process of developing a decarbonisation strategy for our operational emissions with the goal of aligning our actions to real world decarbonisation.
Our progress towards our climate change goals
Each year we disclose how we’re measuring and reporting metrics and targets for the climate change roadmap under the Task Force for Climate-related Financial Disclosures in our Responsible Investment Supplement (PDF).
Human, community and labour rights
We report against the Modern Slavery Act, which aims to increase business awareness of the risks of modern slavery in the production and supply chains of Australian goods and services and work to minimise the risk of modern slavery in our operations and supply chains. This includes engaging with likeminded investors and companies about modern slavery risk management. You can view our most recent Modern Slavery Statement.
Safety disclosures and practices provide insights into a company’s operational performance and culture. Safety considerations form part of the due diligence process for relevant assets, risk committee reporting, and our engagement with companies, which helps inform how we vote at company General Meetings. Not only is this important to understand when making investment decisions, but it also supports our members and the industries in which they operate.
Poor management of cultural heritage issues and relationships by companies can increase the risk of legal costs, project delays, regulatory risk and reputational harm, impacting our members' investments. Cultural heritage risk management and engagement with First Nations People are matters that apply to any company that operates on cultural lands. We chair the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors’ (ACSI) Working Group on Rights and Cultural Heritage Risk Management, which aims to create tools for companies to improve cultural heritage and First Nations People engagement.
Investing in the real economy
With a long history in the building and construction industry and through our wholly owned entity Cbus Property, we own one of the most sustainable commercial property portfolios in the country as rated by NABERS.*
In aligning with our members’ interests, embedding strong ESG practices in the built environment, including the development of sustainable building and construction practices, can generate long-term, sustainable value and positively impact our members’ quality of life in retirement.
In addition, Cbus Property's office portfolio achieved net zero carbon status in 2022, eight years ahead of their 2030 target, as certified by the Climate Active Carbon Neutral Building Standard; and they again received global recognition in the annual Global Real Estate Sustainability Benchmark (GRESB) Real Estate Assessment.
*Cbus Property has been recognised as an industry leader in the 2023 NABERS Sustainable Portfolios Index, which calculates a NABERS Portfolio rating for Cbus Property’s office portfolio.
Investing in renewables infrastructure
We have invested in several wind and solar energy opportunities, powering hundreds of thousands of households with clean energy. We also invest in renewables and low emissions technology in Australia and abroad.
Social and affordable housing
We provide investment funding to support social and affordable housing including the construction of new dwellings. This funding not only supports new home developments for vulnerable Australians but also supports the economy through job creation. We are actively engaged with a range of stakeholders in the social and affordable space to find more ways to attract institutional investment into the sector noting any investment that we make must be in the best financial interests of our members.
Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs)
Through our commitment to our members and the industries they work in, being an employer of choice, and engaging and advocating across our key responsible investment focus areas (including climate change) means that each year we contribute to a range of SDGs.
The SDGs where we believe can contribute are:
5. Achieve gender equality and empower all women and girls.
7. Ensure access to affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy for all.
8. Promote sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all.
9. Build resilient infrastructure, promote inclusive and sustainable industrialisation and foster innovation.
11. Make cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable.
12. Responsible consumption and production.
13. Take urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts.
17. Strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development.
For more information on how we aim to contribute to the SDGs and our progress, see our Responsible Investment Supplement (PDF).
We seek to integrate responsible investment throughout our investment process to enable a better understanding and management of opportunities and risks and with the expectation of generating strong long-term returns for our members.
Integration of material ESG risks and opportunities alongside traditional financial analysis (such as revenues, expenditure, cashflows and cost of capital) enables more informed decision making and seeks to improve risk adjusted returns over time.
We do this by considering how material ESG risks and opportunities, those that are highly likely to affect business or investment performance, are managed when making investment decisions.
We seek to apply this approach to both our internally managed investment portfolios and when choosing and monitoring external investment managers, companies and assets.
Our Stewardship Framework deploys our resources with the aim of supporting real world outcomes1 that have the potential to protect assets and preserve value for our members. Our stewardship approach involves:
- Engagement with companies
- Considering the stewardship practices of our external investment managers
For further information see our Stewardship Statement (PDF).
1 Real world outcomes refer to changes that affect the systems in which our investee companies operate, and in terms of our ESG approach refer to identifying stewardship priorities that are aimed at promoting a shift towards a sustainable finance system, and supporting development or enhancement of standards, guidelines and regulatory reform.
We use a wide range of information and data to continuously evolve our evidence-based approach. We are involved in ongoing research to understand emerging issues and provide evidence to measure and support our approach.
Voting at company meetings is one way we can exercise our shareholder rights. This may include a right to nominate or vote with respect to the nomination of directors we believe best represent our members’ interests.
For ASX 300 and global companies, our voting is guided by the ACSI Corporate Governance Guidelines. These are developed in consultation with ACSI members (including Cbus Super) and a broad group of stakeholders.
There are limited circumstances where we cannot vote, and the Fund has a policy regarding stock lending. Read our Responsible Investment Policy (PDF).
Each year, we identify proposals for internal review. As part of this review, we consider a range of inputs from investment managers, service providers, other stakeholders (where applicable) and our own engagement with the company.
We engage with a broad range of stakeholders including our external investment managers, listed companies, and directly held unlisted companies.
The Fund's engagement program uses multiple mechanisms to preserve assets and protect the value of its member’s equity holdings. Engagement can be undertaken directly (both on a strategic and ad hoc basis), through participation with other investors, or through external service providers.
We undertake three types of engagement:
- Direct - involves meetings with a company on financially material ESG issues.
- Service providers - through the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI) for Australian shareholdings and through the EOS at Federated Hermes for our global shareholdings.
- Participation - with industry partners and other investors. For example, through the Climate Action 100+ initiative and Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific (IAST APAC).
Advocacy and participation
We play an active role in advocating in our members' best financial interests with a focus on influencing policy, reporting standards, and regulatory guidelines. We work alongside others where we can share knowledge and learnings, manage resources and be more effective in our actions.
We undertake activities such as submissions to government and regulatory bodies, with the aim of influencing the broader market and promoting a shift towards a sustainable financial system. Such activities include:
- Securing shareholder rights.
- Guidelines that communicate best practice (e.g. ACSI Corporate Governance Guidelines).
- Standardisation frameworks (e.g. International Sustainability Standards Board [ISSB] global sustainability reporting standards, Australian Sustainable Finance Institute [ASFI] Sustainability Finance Taxonomy).
- Regulation applying to all relevant companies and director decisions (e.g. mandatory reporting obligations).
We participate through the following organisations and initiatives:
Cbus is a founding member of ACSI and is a representative on its member council and board. ACSI exists to provide a strong, collective voice on environmental, social and governance (ESG) issues on behalf of its members, Australian and international asset owners and institutional investors who collectively manage over $1 trillion in assets.
ACSI supports Cbus through research, engagement, advocacy and voting recommendations, to enhance the long-term value of retirement savings of Cbus members. Our Chief Executive Officer, Kristian Fok is on the Board of ACSI and our Head of Responsible Investment sits on the Member Advisory Council.
Cbus is proud to share our ongoing commitment to shaping a more sustainable Australian finance sector by way of our Membership with the Australian Sustainable Finance Institute (ASFI). ASFI grew out of an unprecedented collaboration between the finance sector, that wanted to come together to help shape an Australian economy that prioritises human well-being, social equity and environmental protection, while underpinning financial system resilience and stability. ASFI’s work continues on to build in the collaboration between Australia’s major banks, superannuation funds, insurance companies, financial sector peak bodies and academia as well as government and regulators, that developed the Australian Sustainable Finance Roadmap, launched in late 2020. ASFI’s work focuses on realigning the finance sector to create a sustainable and resilient financial system by directing capital to support greater social, environmental and economic outcomes consistent with the roadmap. Cbus’ Chief Executive Officer, Kristian Fok is the chair of ASFI.
Cbus is an investor member of GRESB real estate and infrastructure.
GRESB is a mission-driven and industry-led organisation providing standardised and validated Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) data to financial markets. Established in 2009, GRESB has become the leading ESG benchmark for real estate and infrastructure investments across the world, used by more than 150 institutional and financial investors to inform decision-making. For more information, visit GRESB.com.
Cbus is a client of EOS at Federated Hermes, an organisation that undertakes engagement, voting and advocacy in relation to global companies. The aim of EOS is to seek positive change for its clients, the companies and the societies in which they operate.
Cbus is a member of the Investors Against Slavery and Trafficking Asia Pacific (IAST APAC) initiative which is an investor-led, multistakeholder project. It was established in 2020 to engage with companies in the Asia-Pacific region to promote effective action in finding, fixing and preventing modern slavery in operations and supply chains.
Investors can achieve greater impact working collaboratively and drawing on various sources of knowledge and expertise to assess and address modern slavery risk in operations and supply chains.
IAST APAC comprises 45 investors with AU$11.9 trillion in Assets Under Management (AUM), together with the Australian Council of Superannuation Investors (ACSI), Walk Free and the Finance Against Slavery and Trafficking (FAST) initiative.
Cbus is a member of IGCC, a not-for-profit organisation that aims to accelerate progress on climate change by connecting, collaborating, and advocating on behalf of investors to support the responsible management of risks and opportunities associated with climate change, and drive sustainable returns for investors and the beneficiaries they represent.
Cbus Director and Investment Committee Chairman Stephen Dunne is chair of the IGCC.
Cbus is a member of the Materials & Embodied Carbon Leaders’ Alliance (MECLA). MECLA is an alliance of over 160 industry, research and government partner organisations collaborating to reduce embodied carbon emissions in the Australian construction and building industry.
In order to achieve embodied carbon reductions, collaboration from stakeholders along complicated supply chains is necessary. MECLA facilitates this collaboration by identifying and addressing barriers to a lower carbon future, whilst aligning with the principles of the Paris Agreement and principles of circular economy.
MECLA’s purpose is to demonstrate demand, define best practice embodied carbon evaluation, build capacity and capability within industry, develop common language, help manage climate transition risk, and support manufacturers to deliver lower carbon materials and products to market.
Cbus is a signatory to the PRI. The principles provide a framework for actions the investment community can undertake to incorporate ESG issues into their investment decision making. This supports our belief that responsible investment can improve long term returns for beneficiaries and align investors with the broader interests of society. Cbus is required to report annually on our responsible investments activities to the PRI.
Cbus is a member of RIAA, which represents responsible, ethical and impact investors across Australia and Aotearoa New Zealand. RIAA is dedicated to ensuring capital is aligned with achieving a healthy society, environment and economy.
Exclusions when investing directly in shares
Whilst our primary approach to responsible investment is through ESG integration, there are occasions where we consider investment in particular companies and industries to be incompatible with the long-term requirements of our members.
We exclude investments across both public and private markets in companies directly involved in certain controversial weapon manufacturing (specifically cluster munitions, biological and chemical weapons, anti-personnel mines, depleted uranium, incendiary and white phosphorus weapons where involvement relates to core weapons components), and companies that earn more than 5% of revenues from tobacco product manufacturing.
For public markets, our compliance system incorporates data from globally recognised third-party data sources to make this determination*, while our private market managers are contractually required to make this determination prior to investment.
We may also employ investment mandate limitations to some index-based emerging market mandates where we have limited ability to engage and influence companies with very poor ESG practices. Our current approach for these mandates excludes companies that have attracted the Sustainalytics® highest controversy rating of “Severe” for a period of at least 12 months, with this list being reviewed annually.
* We currently use the Morningstar Inc. Sustainalytics® platform data for this purpose.
Tobacco free finance signatory
Cbus Super is a signatory of the Tobacco-Free Finance Pledge.
An important part of being accountable is providing transparency about our activities and actions. You can read more about our responsible investment activities and outcomes in the Cbus Annual Integrated Report 2023 (PDF) and the Responsible Investment Supplement 2023 (PDF) which has been independently reviewed and verified through an external limited assurance process.
As a PRI Signatory, Cbus is required to complete an annual PRI assessment. Our approach to responsible investment is reported to the PRI and is benchmarked against global peers. For 2023, Cbus Super achieved results above the median for all nine PRI modules against our global asset owner peers (FUM A$50b to A$250b). For more details, see our 2023 PRI Transparency report (PDF), and our 2023 PRI Assessment report (PDF).
Cbus recognised as a Responsible Super Fund Leader
We are proud to be one of 10 super funds to be named as a 2023 Responsible Super Fund Leader in the Responsible Investment Association Australasia’s (RIAA) latest Responsible Investment Super Study.
We believe that responsible investment is important for our members’ long-term returns and to help safeguard their quality of life in retirement.
The use of ‘us’, ‘we’, ‘our’ or ‘the Trustee’ is a reference to United Super Pty Ltd. Use of ‘Fund’ refers to Cbus Super Fund, which offers Cbus and Media Super products. Cbus Property Pty Ltd (referred to as Cbus Property) is a wholly owned entity of United Super Pty Ltd as Trustee for the Construction and Building Unions Superannuation Fund and is responsible for the development and management of a portfolio of Cbus Super’s property investments. Cbus Property investments are part of the property asset class in the High Growth, Growth Plus, Growth, Conservative Growth, Conservative and Property investment options.
Our approach to climate change
We believe that climate change is one of the most significant challenges we face as a society today.