The Human Capital Project

Why Human Capital?

Occupational health and safety (OHS) has always been critical to corporate performance and sustainability—it enables workers to safely operate in their work environments. The Center also believes OHS is a foundational element of human capital—which includes the skills, knowledge and abilities that workers bring to their work and how they use them. Strengthening this connection is key to long-term success, which is why CSHS has partnered with Harvard Law School, RobecoSAM, and BrownFlynn on a unique new study focused on human capital.

About the Study

With the fiscal support of the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE) and the ASSE Foundation, CSHS is pleased to support research that draws connections between human capital (including OHS) and corporate financial performance. The Project will examine corporate disclosure of human capital policies and practices and outcomes, including those relating to OHS. It will analyze responses to the RobecoSAM Corporate Sustainability Assessment, an extensive survey of companies that drives the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI).

In the spring of 2017, the Project held an inaugural meeting of global stakeholders to provide preliminary results of the Harvard research. In the fall of 2017 the final report of the Harvard research, “Corporate Disclosure of Human Capital Metrics,” was released to an international group of experts in the field. The work built on ongoing work by Harvard Law School’s Labor and Worklife Program. The meeting agendas, speakers, attendees and outcomes of these workshops are provided below.

CSHS Human Capital Workshop

CSHS Human Capital Workshop #1 (March 2017)

On March 31, 2017, the Center hosted a workshop for key stakeholders to advance the conversation around disclosure of human capital policies and practices. Researchers from Harvard Law School will share preliminary findings of the Project’s human capital benchmark assessment. Experts from around the world discussed the latest sustainability trends, frameworks, standards, and disclosures, as well as how financial markets consider human capital in decision-making.

The March 31 Meeting Agenda provides an overview of the workshop, as well as topics and presentations covered by global experts in the field.

The Project sought expertise and input from a global set of stakeholders from key segments of the economy and the field, including corporate practitioners, investors, specialized ESG research firms, standards setting organizations, NGOs and industry and professional associations. View the list of workshop attendees.

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

How can each stakeholder group move the human capital discussion forward?

  1. Academic Research: What would like to see from the Harvard Team as they finalize this research and as they explore future research?
  2. ESG Researchers: What can ESG research firms like RobecoSAM do to improve the collection, dissemination and access to information?
  3. Investors & Investor Groups: What can investor groups, like those represented by Cambria and Luke, 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?

A more detailed brief on the workshop’s results can be found here. These results and additional information from RobecoSAM will inform the final report launch, which is planned for later this summer.

Workshop Presenters (March 2017)

  • 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)

CSHS Human Capital Workshop #2 (October 2017)

On October 23, 2017, CSHS held a follow-up workshop hosted by 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. A list of attendees is available here.

The workshop agenda provides an overview of workshop topics, which included presentations from experts in the field. Workshop attendees discussed and shared reactions to the research findings and specifically broke into groups to discuss 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?

A more detailed brief on the workshop’s results can be found here.

Workshop Presenters (October 2017)

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

Related Resources