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Corporate sustainability

Our ambition is to create long-term sustainable value – for our clients, our people and the planet.

Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF)

Our focus areas

Climate and natural impact
Tackling the interlinked crises of climate change and natural impact.
People and communities
Creating an inclusive organisation and supporting our local communities.
Conduct and transparency
Enabling transparency, and collaboration across our business.

Stephen Bird

Chief Executive Officer

“While a significant amount of work remains to be done, I am proud of the progress we have made to date.”

Stephen Bird

Chief Executive Officer

Our aims and objectives

Find out more about our corporate sustainability objectives for environment, social, governance, and community engagement focus areas.

Climate and natural impact

We are targeting operational net zero by 2040 and have set out clear interim milestones to measure our progress.

Our operational emissions intensity is comparatively small versus the intensity of the investments we manage on behalf of our clients. We aim to lead by example and have set an interim objective to reduce our reported emissions by 50% versus a 2018 baseline.

We reported a 56% reduction in operational emissions as of 31 December 2022, which is ahead of our interim objective, but there is more for us to do as we return to familiar working patterns following the lifting of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our focus is on achieving meaningful absolute reductions against our biggest sources of emissions, which have traditionally been the energy use in our offices and business travel. We are also monitoring our estimated impact from homeworking, as we expect this to be a long-term fixture of the modern workplace.

Our operational emissions are only one source of environmental impact, and we are working to expand the scope of our existing reporting and take better account of our impacts on nature. Our 2022 Sustainability and TCFD report details our progress, and we expect to publish a climate Transition Plan in 2023.

More on environment aims and objectives

People and communities

We have set targets to address key areas of underrepresentation across our business – and we aim to support our wider communities with fair work and our charitable contributions.

Our people are essential to our success and our objective is to create an inclusive culture where the best talent from all backgrounds can thrive. This commitment and the actions we take includes every part of our business as we champion inclusivity, enhance diversity, and support colleague development.

Our belief is that diverse perspectives are fundamental to the success of our business and that our people need to be empowered to deliver for our clients, and better support our communities.

We measure progress against key areas of underrepresentation through our 2025 targets to increase the gender and ethnic representation of our Board, and the gender representation of our senior leaders and global workforce. We report progress annually with more detail in our 2022 Sustainability and TCFD report.

We also support the fair pay landscape as UK Living Wage and Living Hours employers, which is a commitment extended to third party suppliers working on our UK premises. With wider support for our communities being a key component of our charitable giving strategy, we create Powerful Partnerships supporting education, employment, and financial wellness.

More on social aims and objectives

Conduct and transparency

We are champions of transparency and aim to exemplify that in our conduct – we do this through enhanced sustainability governance structures and with an understanding of our material impacts.

Doing the right thing by our clients, colleagues, and communities is a core responsibility of all our people and is embedded within our Global Code of Conduct. It is the ethical standard that we expect and helps us to understand our responsibilities, accountabilities, and our duty to speak up.

We apply this thinking to our work as we navigate the nuanced and changing expectations of our sustainability-related impacts and opportunities. We channel our day-to-day efforts and expertise through our sustainability working groups, whilst enabling effective oversight for our Board, and embedding accountability for performance with our Directors' Remuneration Policy. Our Sustainability and TCFD report provides further detail on this in practice.

We also must also engage with our stakeholders to determine what the right thing is for them. This is something we do every day as we manage our relationships, but we also assess views periodically in line with our responsibilities and understanding of best practice. We completed our latest sustainability materiality assessment in 2023 which reflects our understanding of significant sustainability topics for our business and helps support our forward-looking sustainability strategy.

More on governance aims and objectives

Climate and natural impact

Driving meaningful reductions in the environmental impact of our business.

We want to be a positive catalyst for the transition to net zero. We're committed to influencing real-world decarbonisation by developing the right products for our clients and using our influence to support credible transition pathways.

We are members of the Net Zero Asset Managers initiative (NZAM) and are committed to reducing the carbon intensity of the assets we invest in on behalf of our clients to support the transition to net zero.

Our interim investments target is to reduce the carbon intensity of the in-scope assets we invest in by 50% by 2030 versus a 2019 baseline.

We are making progress against our target and as of 31 December 2022 we reported that in-scope public market portfolios achieved a 27% Weighted Average Carbon Intensity (WACI) reduction versus a 2019 baseline, with in-scope real estate assets also achieving a 31% carbon intensity reduction.

We do not expect this to be a linear journey and have developed a strategy of net zero directed investing to enable clients to achieve their climate goals. Our latest Sustainability and TCFD report provides more detail on the actions we are taking.

Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF)
This page continues to focus on our operational impacts. You can find out more about our investment approach to climate change in our latest Sustainability and TCFD report, from pages 6 to 41.

Our operational climate objectives

We are a global business helping our clients to plan, save, and invest for the future. Our environmental impacts reflect this, as we keep offices and work flexibly to better deliver for our global clients.

Our operational emissions intensity is comparatively small versus the intensity of the investments we manage on behalf of our clients, but we are committed to play our part in driving meaningful reductions in our reported emissions.

We are targeting operational net zero by 2040 and working towards a 50% reduction in reported emissions by 2025 versus our 2018 baseline.

Our emissions target includes Scope 1, 2, and Scope 3 categories – but we still have more to do to collect data for some material Scope 3 categories, such as emissions related to our supply chain. We are working to develop a more complete picture of our Scope 3 data and will report transparently on our related impacts and progress.

Our Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF) provide a more detailed picture of our objectives and reporting methodology.

Making clear progress toward our targets

We reported a 56% reduction in our operational emissions as of 31 December 2022.

This reflects the progress we have made to date. We note, however, that our operational emissions increased in 2022, versus emissions reported in 2021. This is something we anticipated as we returned to familiar working patterns following the lifting of travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our focus on absolute reductions

The nature of our business means that our largest sources of operational emissions are related to where we work, and how we connect with our clients and colleagues.

We are therefore focused on reducing the energy use in our offices and the need to drive long-term reductions in business travel.

Our priority is to reduce our impact in absolute terms, with the elimination and reduction of emissions – but we also recognise and support other measures such as renewable energy, credible offsetting, and new technologies.

In 2022 we procured 99% renewable electricity for our global offices using renewable energy tariffs and have committed to offset 100% of our reported operational emissions using accredited projects.

We are also looking for efficiencies across our business, with practical actions such as an increased use of cloud computing, installation of LED lighting, and consolidation of some of our office locations contributing to our targets.

We expect that homeworking will be a long-term feature of our workplace. Our colleagues value the flexibility this affords, and we believe this creates a more agile and resilient organisation.

We currently estimate our emissions impact from homeworking using an independent methodology but are reflecting on our existing approach, as we look to develop a more nuanced view that will enable us to support meaningful reductions in this space.

Our Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF) provides more detail.

Our natural impact

Our objective operationally is to play our part in protecting and enhancing our natural world.

We approach this through the abrdn charitable foundation, our employee engagement programme, and through active management of sites and offices.

Climate change and nature are intrinsically linked. Therefore, one of the most effective ways we can have a positive impact is to deliver on our climate commitments to reduce our aggregate impacts as a business.

Some actions we are already taking:

  • Removal of single-use plastics from our global offices, where feasible
  • Procurement of 99% renewable energy in 2022
  • Offset 100% of our reported operational emissions using voluntary carbon credits
  • Engagement with top 50% of third party suppliers by spend to set net zero targets
  • Partnering our charitable foundation with UNESCO to promote environmental sustainability

We are advocates for, and support disclosure, of nature-related impacts. We are supportive the framework being developed by the Taskforce on Nature-related Financial Disclosures (TNFD). We also signed the ‘Finance for biodiversity pledge’ in 2022, with a commitment to report publicly against the principles by 2025.

Social

Supporting fair and inclusive work and equality of opportunity for our people and communities.

Creating a more equitable organisation includes every part of our business as we champion inclusivity, enhance diversity, and support colleague development. This includes our commitment to provide safe and secure work for our people and communities.

Diversity, equity and inclusion

We value diverse perspectives and seek to create a fair and inclusive culture, where people are valued, empowered, and enabled to succeed.

Careers

Careers and talent development

We aim to recruit, retain, and nurture the best talent – and we are taking actions to improve the diversity of our people across all levels of our business.

Community engagement

We support of tomorrow’s generation – through connecting people to opportunities, to their communities and to the natural world.

Our commitment to fair and inclusive work

We have been an accredited UK Living Wage employer since 2014 and in 2020 were one of the first companies to be accredited as a Living Hours employer.

What this means in practice is that we ensure all our UK colleagues (approximately 80% of our global workforce) are paid above, or in line with, the UK Living Wage and that all colleagues are paid above the minimum wage in their country of work, globally.

We extend this commitment to third party suppliers working on our UK premises and our Global Third Party Code of Conduct (PDF) details our linked expectations for any global third parties that we work with.

In the UK, the Living Wage Foundation monitors and sets a Living Wage threshold based on the deemed hourly rate needed to meet the cost of living beyond the minimum threshold mandated by legislation. Living Wage rates are updated periodically and were last updated on 22 September 2022, to £10.90 across the UK and £11.95 for London. Whereas UK minimum wage at the time of writing is £9.50.

Also overseen by the UK Living Wage Foundation, the Living Hours accreditation provides greater security for workers. Three key standards underpin the commitment:

  • Decent notice periods for shifts: of at least 4 weeks’ notice, with guaranteed payment if shifts are cancelled within this notice period.
  • A guaranteed minimum of 16 hours a week (unless the worker requests otherwise).
  • The right to a contract that reflects accurate hours worked.

Living Hours is intended to help combat insecure work across the UK, with the three key standards ensuring fair treatment of workers on flexible contracts.

Ensuring health, safety, and wellbeing

Our office environments are relatively low-risk spaces, but the standard of care we hold ourselves to remains high.

We conduct risk assessments for our work activities, with our goal being zero reportable workplace accidents and 95% of risks to be controlled at the point of audit. All accidents and incidents are investigated and our Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF) provides more detail.

Respecting human rights

We know it is critical to embed respect for human rights throughout our business.

Our sector has a key role to play in combatting modern slavery and forced labour. We take an active approach and work across our operations, through our investments, with third parties, and with our wider sector to drive positive change.

We report our actions and progress annual in line with the UK Modern Slavery Act. Our objective is to go beyond required reporting, with our efforts aiming to tangibly improve our operational practices.

We have more to do to fully understand and address potential risks linked to modern slavery and have outlined three main objectives to 2025:

  • Integrate modern slavery considerations into our investment processes
  • Raise further awareness amongst colleagues
  • Complete modern slavery risk assessment of suppliers

Our latest report details the steps we have taken to progress these objectives and we are determined to be transparent as we acknowledge the severity of this issue.

Modern Slavery Report (PDF)

Conduct and transparency

Embedding sustainability considerations into our thinking and processes.
We aim to reflect sustainability principles throughout our diverse business. This applies to the ethical standards we hold ourselves, to our influence as active owners, and the information we disclose to our stakeholders.
Asset management

Conduct

Our global code of conduct describes the standards we hold ourselves to as we aim to do the right thing.

Client journey

Corporate governance

Our Board is committed to high standards of corporate governance and in its accountability for our business.

Portcullis

Responsible Tax

Our tax contribution is significant and we report transparently as to how and where we pay tax on an annual basis.

Active Ownership

Our role as engaged and active owners is an essential component of our sustainability strategy and governance.

Our material sustainability topics

Understanding the sustainability topics that are most significant to our business and stakeholders is essential as we further embed sustainability into our thinking and processes.

We completed an independent double materiality assessment in 2023 to refresh our understanding and to support our forward-looking sustainability priorities. We sought perspectives from a range of stakeholder groups and topics were assessed in view of both positive and negative impacts, alongside our deemed ability to influence the potential outcome.

There is a clear output in that climate change emerges as the most material topic. Our view is that climate change presents as both a significant risk and opportunity for our business, with other focus areas, such as conduct, also being fundamental to our success.

Other significant topics present as emergent, in the case of biodiversity and natural capital. Or as highly important to specific stakeholder groups, such as education, opportunity, and talent development. This insight is equally valuable as we take a forward-looking view across our sustainability strategy.

Our latest assessment is by no means a fixed viewpoint and we will continue to monitor changes and emergence to topics over time.

The relative significance of topics is detailed here to three management levels. All topics will be important components of our evolving approach, with the levels intended as a prioritisation guide versus an absolute perspective.



Level 1

Topics considered to pose the greatest relevance to our ability to create value and/or reflect the highest outward impacts on society and the environment.

  • Climate change

  • Ethical conduct and financial practises

  • Human and labour rights

  • Cyber-security and data privacy

Level 2

Topics considered very significant and requiring active management as components of our sustainability strategy.

  • Diversity, equity and inclusion

  • Financial inclusion and access to services

  • Community support and development

  • Biodiversity and natural capital

  • Education, opportunity and talent development

Level 3

Topics considered important but with relatively less significance, versus other identified topics.

  • Health, safety and wellbeing

  • Waste, consumption and circularity

Our Sustainability and TCFD report (PDF). provides more detail on the process we followed and includes a chart to fully reflect our assessment of topics against double materiality principles.