The coronavirus pandemic posed significant challenges to businesses around the world in 2020. Many companies were forced to lay off employees for some periods. Demand for goods and services skyrocketed for some sectors, while it came to a complete halt for others. Uncertainty was generally high, and this has continued into 2021. This has not made sustainability and corporate social responsibility efforts, which we typically group under the ESG umbrella, any less important. On the contrary, we saw a stronger focus on emissions cuts, climate risk, social issues, gender equality and diversity, and good corporate governance among our managers during the past year.
You can read our annual ESG questionnaire to the managers and funds in our portfolio here. In the questionnaire, we look at whether they have developed their ESG policy, how transparent they are, whether they have made improvements in their ESG work over the past year and their response to new regulations in the pipeline.
Every year we draw up a questionnaire with some fixed and some new questions. This year we have shed light on how the managers and funds are preparing for the forthcoming EU taxonomy and working on climate risk. We have actively mapped how fund managers are working on data security, how many are using the UN Sustainable Development Goals and following up on anti-corruption matters where relevant. Last but not least, we have asked about the financial effect of the ESG work in the portfolio companies. Read the summaries of the responses we received here.
New this year are case studies from the portfolio. We interviewed the head of Bastard Burgers, a Swedish burger chain part-owned by the Norwegian fund Equip, which has built up a unique work culture (read more). We also interviewed The North Alliance, part-owned by Norvestor, who explain their approach to ESG within one of the largest agency networks in Scandinavia (read more).
I have always believed that private equity funds are well-positioned to influence the ESG work in portfolio companies because governance issues are at the heart of the sector. We are constantly seeing evidence of this in our portfolio.
We hope you enjoy the report.