Established in 1974, Universities Superannuation Scheme is a private pension scheme and the principal pension scheme for universities and Higher Education institutions in the United Kingdom. It provides retirement and ill health benefits, as well as life cover for academic staff. As a hybrid pension scheme, it has both a defined benefit part and a defined contribution part. Defined benefit has GBP 88.9 billion in assets and approximately 500,000 members whereas defined contribution has GBP 1.9 billion in assets and has around 97,000 of its members.
Universities Superannuation Scheme has an engagement policy where it describes its approach on sustainability themes and impact topics with investees. Its engagement policy includes a clear framework with success criteria and escalation points in the event that engagement with investees is unsuccessful. The financial institution publishes an engagement report describing how the engagement policy is applied in practice. It also publishes case studies describing where it has engaged successfully with investees on sustainability themes and impact topics.
As a member of Climate Action 100+, Universities Superannuation Scheme discloses that it collectively engages with its clients on the topic of climate change. Moreover, the financial institution provides evidence that it collectively engages with companies to which it provides financial services on the topic of their nature- and biodiversity-related impacts.
In terms of its approach to senior leadership accountability, Universities Superannuation Scheme has an opportunity to assign responsibility for sustainability to its highest governing body and link the remuneration of its executive and management teams to sustainability performance criteria. Furthermore, no evidence was found that the financial institution is committed to gender equality and women’s empowerment. Universities Superannuation Scheme could disclose the proportion of women in senior leadership roles as well as how it addresses any gender pay gaps. There is no evidence that the financial institution publishes case studies describing where it has engaged unsuccessfully with clients on sustainability themes and impact topics.
There is no evidence that Universities Superannuation Scheme discloses a target to reach net-zero financed emissions by 2050. It has an opportunity to disclose the key sectors and companies it has identified as priorities to engage with on climate change, specifically on the alignment with the Paris Agreement. Similarly, there is no evidence that it discloses that it requires companies to which it provides financial services to have a strategy aligned with the Paris Agreement. Furthermore, Universities Superannuation Scheme could disclose the amount of its investment devoted to climate solutions. Regarding nature and biodiversity, no evidence was found that the financial institution is committed to minimising its negative impacts or financing regenerative solutions.
There is no evidence that Universities Superannuation Scheme has a publicly available policy statement committing it to respect human rights laid out in the UN Guiding Principles and the ILO declaration on fundamental rights at work. Therefore, it has an opportunity to describe a comprehensive process for identifying its human rights risks and impacts across all its activities, especially its investment activities. It also has an opportunity to disclose the proportion of its total direct operations workforce for each employee category by age group, gender or another indicator of diversity. To provide transparency on financial inclusivity, Universities Superannuation Scheme could disclose the amount of finance directed towards low-income developing countries.