Aga Siemiginowska, head of sustainability at Oakley Capital, shares her firm’s priorities for the year ahead:
What is your top sustainability priority for 2024? What will count as a success?
I’m very excited for what 2024 has in store. Our team is growing, which means we’ll have more time and diverse skills to provide additional support to our portfolio companies, while also advancing Oakley’s own sustainability initiatives. If I were to name one priority, it would be recalibrating our sustainability strategy for the next three to five years.
Given the dynamic nature of ESG and sustainability, coupled with growth at both the platform and portfolio level, as well as the addition of a new investment sector, business services, it’s crucial to reassess our strategic objectives. This process will ensure we’re working towards continuous development and improvement, building on the significant progress already made over the past three years.
Where have you reached on your portfolio decarbonisation/climate journey? What is next on the ‘to do’ list?
We’ve been taking a fairly conservative and, what I think is a pragmatic, approach in our climate journey. We have a good understanding of both firm and portfolio emissions, as well as climate risk across the portfolio. Looking ahead, the next 12 months will see an elevation in our efforts. We are closely following the development of Science Based Targets ‘SBTs’ and other decarbonisation initiatives, with a view to getting onto a decarbonisation pathway in the near future.
ESG data: Do you think the industry has now reached a good place in terms of data frameworks?
Certainly. The EDCI (ESG Data Convergence Initiative) has been a game changer. Although there’s a huge benefit of having bespoke KPIs, the standardisation of a core set of metrics, including their definition, provides a benefit to our portfolio, who can now share these metrics not only with us, but also other sponsors or lenders, if needed. We’re also seeing the benefit in terms of reporting up to our LPs, where these metrics have allowed us to provide comparable KPIs without having to re-organise data into bespoke reporting requests.
The resultant development of benchmarks within private markets is also immensely helpful and should get better the more companies participate. The ongoing challenge is around data quality, but this should improve in time, as everyone gets more comfortable collecting this data, and, in the EU at least, preparation for the Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive ‘CSRD’ goes full throttle.
ESG data: Are you now finding ESG data (both your own and industry benchmark data) to be genuinely decision-useful for investment decisions?
We’re starting to. The benchmarks are not yet perfect, but the data gives us a clearer idea where we may have a company that’s an outlier within our portfolio, or amongst peers. This is powerful, as it helps to communicate to the investment team and portfolio management team on why we should focus on that specific topic. At a fund level, it helps us prioritise initiatives, track progress and ensure accountability.
What is the next step in your ESG ‘journey’ for human rights and supply chain risk?
Supply chain is one of our priorities for 2024, especially for our consumer businesses. These companies have made great strides over the last few years but need to continually evolve as they grow. Supply chain management can feel overwhelming when you’re growing rapidly, expanding into new products or new markets. It is our responsibility to support our companies in this journey, and we’ll be focusing on it over the next few months.
What is the next step in your ESG ‘journey’ when it comes to nature?
Nature is an emerging focus area for us and there is a sense that it’s turning into the latest ‘hot topic’. At Oakley, we’re closely monitoring developments in this space and folding these considerations into our initiatives.
What is the first item on your DE&I ‘to do’ list in 2024?
The first item on our DE&I list is helping launch a pilot mentoring scheme at Oakley. DE&I at firm level is led by our Chief People Officer who has developed a fantastic approach to DE&I which we continue to implement across the organisation. The mentoring pilot is something that a few of us have been working on to ensure we provide support to different groups within Oakley.