Dear colleagues from S&P Global (Sustainable1), MSCI Inc., Sustainanalytics, Bloomberg LP, FTSE Russell, An LSEG Business, ISS ESG, Forum Ethibel, Morningstar and Global Reporting Initiative (GRI),
We are writing to you on behalf of the UN Global Compact Network Ukraine.
On February 24, a full-scale war launched by Russia broke out in Ukraine, Europe’s second largest country. Peaceful cities and their citizens have become targets for tanks, missiles and aircraft. So far, more than 20,000 civilians (including 183 children) have been killed, more than 6,100 homes have been destroyed, and more than 11 million people have been displaced from their homes. There is a full-scale humanitarian crisis in many Ukrainian cities.
Every international company operating in Russia is helping to support Russia’s aggression against Ukraine. Every ruble paid in taxes to Russia is transformed into death and tears of the Ukrainian people and their children. In our opinion, financing war crimes is tantamount to committing war crimes.
With this in mind, we would like to understand how you have and will penalize companies operating in Russia through your ESG scores and related services.
According to the Yale School of Management’s list of international companies in Russia, there are many notable international companies (such as Nestle, which has an AA rating from MSCI) that still operate in Russia. Exiting the market is always a very expensive step, but if we consider not only the financial aspect of companies, but also their values, we see that the decision to leave is reasonable and justified. We strongly believe that the ESG scores of companies that harm Ukrainian society and support the war should be re-evaluated.
There are many reliable Ukrainian resources such as Forbes Ukraine, Ekonomichna Pravda, Delo.ua and, Novoe Vremya that highlight the situation in Ukraine and international companies that are influencing the war. We recommend that you deepen and broaden your use of these trusted news sources.
Russian sources such as Yandex News, Mail.ru News, RBK, Kommersant.ru are not reliable and continue to justify the war, calling it a “special operation” and pretending that everything is under control. All independent Russian SM’s like Meduza, Dozhd’ were forced to stop their local operations.
Companies like Leroy Merlin, Metro C&C and Nestle, which continue to operate in Russia and ignore the crisis unfolding in Ukraine, are financing the violation of human rights, a standard and essential ESG criterion. There are other examples of companies like DHL that need to be re-examined. The company recently announced that it will stop doing business in Russia (see first screenshot). Here is the direct quote: “DHL has also decided to suspend its domestic operations in these countries until further notice”. And now on the Russian DHL site (the second screenshot) was posted that all activities are resumed and they do business as usual. Moreover, it is not allowed to see it from Ukraine or other foreign countries – you will see 403 error. The site is shown only for Russian IPs (we logged in via VPN). There is no news or comments on the global DHL website about this issue.
In light of these serious issues, we urge you to take these facts into account and consider strengthening your sanctions, such as further downgrading a company’s ESG rating or even ceasing to issue ratings to offending companies. The companies that are sponsoring the war should not have a high ESG rating and set an example for others. Please prove to all investors that your analysis is robust, objective and accurately reflects current events.
In late April or May, we plan to issue a public letter with recommendations we would make to ESG rating companies. But before that, we would like to understand in detail how the Russia/Ukraine war is reflected in your ESG ratings and other related services. To this end, we would welcome a call to discuss this matter further.
We look forward to your response and your suggested dates and times to discuss the above.