The Human Capital Project

Why Human Capital Project?

An organization’s human capital includes the skills, knowledge and abilities that workers bring to their work and how they use them. Effective occupational health and safety (OHS) management helps workers safely operate in their work environments, making OHS a foundational element of human capital. Effective management of an organization’s human capital underpins corporate performance and sustainability. CSHS supports research that advances the use of OHS metrics that help corporations attain optimal human capital/OHS performance, and ultimately improve long term corporate financial performance.

Research

With the financial support of the American Society of Safety Engineers and the ASSE Foundation, CSHS partnered with Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program, RobecoSAM, and BrownFlynn on a unique new study examining corporate disclosure of human capital policies/procedures and outcomes, including those related to OHS. It builds on ongoing work undertaken by the Labor and Worklife Program and analyzes responses to the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an extensive survey of companies that drives the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).

The Project held two workshops with groups of stakeholders from around the world to discuss the research. The inaugural meeting was held in the spring of 2017 to discuss the preliminary results. A second meeting was held in October 2017, where the results of the final report Corporate Disclosure of Human Capital Metrics,” were discussed. Details and outcomes of these meetings are provided below.

Workshops

Workshop #1 (March 2017)

Sponsored by:Special advisor:

In March 2017, CSHS hosted an inaugural workshop on the disclosure of human capital policies and practices where the Harvard team shared preliminary findings of the human capital benchmark assessment. Attendees represented a diverse cross-section of global experts, including corporate practitioners, investors, specialized ESG research firms, standards setting organizations, NGOs, and industry/professional associations. They discussed the latest sustainability trends, frameworks, standards, and disclosures, as well as how financial markets consider human capital in decision-making.

Following presentations from experts in the field, workshop attendees shared reactions to the research findings and responded to the following questions regarding how each stakeholder group can advance the dialogue on human capital:

  1. Academic Research: What would you like to see from the Harvard team as they finalize this research and explore future research?
  2. ESG Researchers: What can ESG research firms like RobecoSAM do to improve the collection, dissemination and accessibility of information?
  3. Investors & Investor Groups: What can investor groups do to help drive more relevance to these issues?
  4. Occupational Health & Safety Profession: How would you like to see CSHS engage the market and influence future efforts to connect OHS with human capital?

The results and additional information from RobecoSAM informed the final report.

Speakers

  • Cambria Allen, Corporate Governance Director at UAW Retiree Medical Benefits Trust; Human Capital Management Coalition
  • Larry Beeferman, Director of the Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project, Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
  • Aaron Bernstein, Senior Fellow with the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard Law School
  • Robert Dornau, Director, Senior Manager Sustainability Services, RobecoSAM
  • Evan Harvey, Director of Corporate Responsibility, Nasdaq; Board Member, Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB)
  • Luke Hildyard, Policy Lead: Stewardship and Corporate Governance at the Pensions and Lifetime Savings Association
  • Dennis Hudson, Executive Director of the American Society of Safety Engineers
  • Kathy Seabrook, Chair of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability
  • Susanne Stormer, Vice President, Corporate Sustainability, Novo Nordisk; Council Member, International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)

Workshop #2 (October 2017)

Sponsored by:Special advisor:

In October 2017, CSHS held a follow-up workshop at Harvard Law School where the final research was released. Experts from publicly traded companies, investor groups and framework and standard setting organizations reacted to the findings and provided their feedback.

After presentations from experts in the field, workshop attendees shared reactions to the research findings and discussed the following questions:

  • Human capital management and reporting can drive performance, yet more research is needed. What research is most important? What are the best ways to engage with companies in that research?
  • There is a gap between human capital management and disclosure. What are the best ways to spur companies to publicly disclose the metrics that they do track and collect (privately) and inspire them to publicly disclose?
  • There is a need for improved quality, consistency, and comparability of metrics. What steps should be taken by and with whom to spur a more broadly shared uniformity of metrics for public disclosure?

Speakers

  • Cambria Allen, Corporate Governance Director, United Autoworkers (UAW) Retiree Medical Benefits Trust
  • Larry Beeferman, Director, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project Labor and Worklife Program - Harvard Law School
  • Aaron Bernstein, Senior Research Fellow, Pensions and Capital Stewardship Project Labor and Worklife Program - Harvard Law School
  • Sharon Block, Executive Director of the Labor and Worklife Program, Harvard Law School
  • Bastian Buck, Director Standards, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
  • Guillermo Castillo, Health, Safety and Environment Director, Cummins
  • Darryl Hill, Director, EHS Governance & Product Stewardship, Abbott
  • Bob Laux, North American Lead, International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC)
  • Aeisha Mastagni, Portfolio Manager, California State Teachers’ Retirement System (CalSTRS)
  • David Post, Director of Research, Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB)
  • Kathy Seabrook, Chair of the Center for Safety and Health Sustainability

Related Resources