LONDON, 27 September 2022 – The non-profit World Benchmarking Alliance (WBA) announced today the creation of the first multi-stakeholder coalition on ethical artificial intelligence (AI). The Collective Impact Coalition already has 39 supporting members, which include lead investors Fidelity International, Boston Common Asset Management, and 29 financial institutions representing USD 6.3 trillion of assets under management.
This coalition aims to raise awareness of the importance of responsible and ethical AI, increase understanding of the state of play and leading best practices, and improve technology companies’ commitment to ethical AI.
While the benefits and potential of AI are recurrently publicised by digital companies, more work needs to be done in identifying and disclosing its risks, especially around privacy and human rights. This issue was flagged by the WBA in its latest Digital Inclusion Benchmark, published in December 2021, after assessing and ranking 150 of the world’s most influential technology companies based on their commitments to advance a more inclusive digital society. Out of the 150 companies, to date only 20 have disclosed their commitment to follow ethical AI principles. Check out the results of our 2021 Digital Inclusion Benchmark here.
We believe that collective action is the way for digital companies to publicly commit to follow ethical principles for AI. If companies are not held to account, the consequences can be devastating for the users and society overall, and also lead companies to face reputational and revenue losses
said Lourdes O. Montenegro, Digital Sector Transformation Lead at the World Benchmarking Alliance.
Christine Brueschke, Sustainable Analyst and Digital Ethics Lead at Fidelity International, said:
As stewards of capital, we are acutely aware of our responsibility to our clients and wider society. How we hold investee companies to account today will help shape a more sustainable tomorrow, and we take this seriously. The growth of artificial intelligence will be exponential in the upcoming years and although it brings many opportunities for investors and society overall, it also carries considerable risks.
These risks cannot be overlooked, and it is our belief that digital companies should be at the forefront of developing AI technology that is responsible and ethical. By working with the WBA and the wider Collective Impact Coalition (CIC), we look forward to collaborating to bring about better acknowledgment and mitigation of risks associated with AI.
Lauren Compere, Managing Director at Boston Common Asset Management, said:
As investors, it is important for us collectively to better understand the landscape of AI, and promote robust transparency and disclosure of companies’ involvement in AI and how they mitigate the risk while embracing the opportunities it provides. This starts with having a public ethical or responsible AI policy. We are delighted to be part of this important collective initiative.
In April 2022, the coalition published a public investor statement calling for digital economy companies to demonstrate their commitment to abide by ethical AI principles in both development and application of this technology.
In August 2022, the WBA started to communicate directly with the 130 companies ranked in the Digital Inclusion Benchmark that hadn’t yet disclosed their efforts to follow ethical AI principles and received immediate responses from seven of those companies.
Over the coming months, the coalition’s financial institutions will actively engage with relevant technology companies in their respective portfolios to highlight that the lack of transparency and commitment to ethical AI is a key concern for investors.
Lourdes O. Montenegro added:
The World Benchmarking Alliance will continue to expand this multi-stakeholder coalition to those civil society organisations and relevant groups keen to help drive progress on ethical AI and digital inclusion. The main goal of this initiative is to increase companies’ accountability; we hope to be able to track their progress and to increase the number of digital companies making public commitments to ethical AI. This will be reflected in next year’s publication of the Digital Inclusion Benchmark.
Notes to editors:
A full list of members supporting the Collective Impact Coalition on AI can be found here: Investor Statement on Ethical AI | World Benchmarking Alliance
WBA: Forster Communications, Harry@forster.co.uk
Founded in 2018, the World Benchmarking Alliance is a non-profit organisation holding 2,000 of the world’s most influential companies accountable for their part in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals. It does this by publishing free and publicly available benchmarks on their performance and showing what good corporate practice looks like. The benchmarks provide companies with a clear roadmap of what commitments and changes they must make in order to put our planet, society and economy on a more sustainable and resilient path. They also equip everyone – from governments and financial institutions to civil society organisations and individuals – with the insights that they need to collectively incentivise leading companies to keep going and pressure the laggards to catch up.
For more information, visit www.worldbenchmarkingalliance.org and follow us on Twitter @SDGBenchmarks
About Fidelity International
Fidelity International offers investment solutions and services and retirement expertise to more than 2.5 million customers globally. As a privately held, purpose-driven company with a 50-year heritage, we think generationally and invest for the long term. Operating in more than 25 countries and with $665.2 billion in total assets, our clients range from central banks, sovereign wealth funds, large corporates, financial institutions, insurers and wealth managers, to private individuals.
Our Workplace & Personal Financial Health business provides individuals, advisers and employers with access to world-class investment choices, third-party solutions, administration services and pension guidance. Together with our Investment Solutions & Services business, we invest $499.8 billion on behalf of our clients. By combining our asset management expertise with our solutions for workplace and personal investing, we work together to build better financial futures. Data as of 30 June 2022. Read more at fidelityinternational.com
About Boston Common Asset Management
Boston Common Asset Management (BCAM) is an independent, women-led, and majority women- and employee-owned firm activating investor capital toward solutions for people and planet. An active, global equity ESG-integrated investment manager and a leader in impactful shareowner engagement since its founding in 2003, BCAM challenges companies across industries to devote resources and innovation toward social equity and earth renewal. BCAM is headquartered in Boston, with offices in San Francisco. The company’s investment strategies totaled $4.6 billion in assets as of June 30, 2022.