Compass Investors

We have been working with institutional investors, fund managers, and investment consultants for more than 10 years, updating the business community on new approaches to investing that actively consider human rights and good governance. With a network representing close to $7 trillion in assets under management, the program prioritizes the “S” in ESG—convening thought leaders from across the world and developing tools and initiatives to encourage investors to take actions that drive change in their organizations and across the industry.

Social factors—the “S” in environmental, social, and governance analysis—are often overlooked in ESG discussions due to the perceived difficulty of measuring companies’ impacts on society and issues such as justice, economic and racial equity, and human rights. Yet as protests in the U.S., Russia, Belarus, Hong Kong, Myanmar, and elsewhere have shown, these are precisely the issues that people care most about—even if corporate boardrooms often ignore them.

To close that gap, the RFK Compass Investors Program is focusing on primary social considerations that investors and asset managers should act on as they seek to achieve superior risk-adjusted returns for their fiduciaries: advocating for and protecting the rights of workers in the global supply chain; promoting equity in access to capital and career opportunities that promote diversity and ensure greater racial and economic justice.

Rights of Workers

Workers everywhere have a right to be treated with respect and to labor without fear of discrimination, sexual abuse, or exploitation. But as companies’ supply chains have become less transparent, various industries have become more vulnerable to human rights violations. RFK Human Rights recognizes the need to prioritize transparency in the mining, farming, textile, and restaurant industries in particular, where unfair labor practices, wage theft, discrimination, and similar issues often hurt the very workers whose labor makes these supply chains possible for many businesses. By being aware of these abuses and demanding transparency, investors can—and should—be part of the solution.

We know well the the long-term viability of companies is inextricably tied to the welfare of all stakeholders. With that in mind, our Compass team has spent recent months engaged in an advocacy campaign for workers to be compensated with livable wages. Together with our One Fair Wage coalition of partners, we signed an investor letter addressed to Denny's CEO John Miller urging the company to pull out of the National Restaurant Association, which has been lobbying against raising the federal minimum wage. The coalition’s shareholder advocacy—including recent roundtables with dozens of investors—not only demonstrates to investors that they can leverage their capital to benefit workers on the frontline of our society, but that doing so can also improve their bottom line.


Promoting Racial, Economic, and Gender Equity

Equity matters. It matters in boardrooms as much as it does in classrooms and on the streets when police officers stop motorists or pedestrians to enforce traffic laws. Society is now recognizing this fundamental truth and demanding that individuals of all racial, ethnic, and gender backgrounds be given equal access to capital and opportunity so that we can live in a more just and equitable world. Businesses are a crucial part of this equation, and for this reason investors must ensure that the companies they back are aware of the importance of equity. This means not just ensuring diverse representation in boardrooms and C-suites but also thinking about the impact of companies’ business practices on lending, law enforcement, education, and other areas of society where equity has historically been neglected.

Racial and economic justice are tightly intertwined. Ensuring greater equity in the flow of capital is essential to promoting greater equity more broadly. The RFK Compass Investors Program promotes racial justice by moving beyond discussions of diversity and inclusion toward building an equitable and just society for all—especially in the financial services industry.

Research has consistently shown that funds run by managers from diverse racial and ethnic backgrounds perform just as well as monolithic ones. Even so, racial and gender bias persists in the financial services industry, where women and people of color have a hard time advancing their careers and realizing their true potential. And consumers of financial services often find themselves being treated differently based on their racial and ethnic backgrounds.

RFK Compass has identified four steps investors can take to help promote racial and economic justice. In 2021, we hope to build on this by promoting greater discussion of racial justice across all our programming so that the investing community can identify additional solutions to these problems, which—as the events of 2020 have shown us—are now firmly on the agenda.



Advisory Committee

The RFK Compass Advisory Committee brings together a highly respected group of institutional investors, asset managers, and human rights academics to develop and present valuable content for achieving superior risk-adjusted returns while having a positive impact on society. Learn more.

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FOR MORE PERSPECTIVE

CAMPAIGN—

Funds for Freedom

Working with Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp, we’ve invested $1 million to bail people from jails at the height of the pandemic, sparing hundreds from the unjust cruelties of pretrial detention.

CAMPAIGN—

Mass Bail Out

In October 2018, RFK Human Rights freed more than 100 people from New York’s notorious Rikers Island jail who were incarcerated pretrial because they couldn’t afford their bail. The effort highlighted how money bail discriminates against people of color and those experiencing poverty—generating unprecedented demand for reform.

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