CalSTRS Advances Global Stewardship and Accountability Standards for Long-Term Sustainability
2015—16 GRI sustainability report showcases pension fund’s engagement efforts and risk-mitigation strategies across environmental, social and governance related topics
WEST SACRAMENTO, Calif. – The California State Teachers’ Retirement System today released Global Stewardship at Work, its 2015—16 sustainability report. This is the third year the system published the report, which is based on the Global Reporting Initiative G4 Guidelines.
In 2015, CalSTRS became the first U.S. public pension plan to issue a sustainability report that met the GRI guidelines. And this year, CalSTRS continues to report sustainability-focused disclosures that adhere to the GRI performance metrics. The report also features detailed reporting of material topics that were prioritized based on feedback from stakeholder surveys, including responses from CalSTRS members, employees, special interest groups, and industry/business partners.
“This year’s report details the broad interpretation of long-term sustainability and stewardship.”
CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer
“Analyzing and strategizing on the impacts of the confluence of economic, social, environmental and responsible governance factors are critical to fulfilling CalSTRS’ mission of securing the financial future of California’s educators,” stated CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer Jack Ehnes. “This year’s report details the broad interpretation of long-term sustainability and stewardship, as well as the global perspective we’ve adopted to mitigate risk exposure and capitalize on opportunities for growth.”
The following notable achievements are outlined in the report:
- Economic: CalSTRS investment costs are lower than 15 global peers, saving approximately $135 million annually, which distinguishes CalSTRS as a low-cost plan compared to both the industry peer and U.S. averages.
- Retirement Readiness: A new series of three financial awareness workshops designed for members focuses on saving, planning and protecting members’ financial future.
- Sustainable Investments: CalSTRS committed $2.5 billion to an internally implemented and managed MSCI ACWI Low Carbon Target Index. The index includes U.S., developed and emerging markets/countries.
- Environmentally Conscious Workforce: CalSTRS employees contributed to the organization’s resource conservation efforts, including an 8 percent reduction in water usage and a 7 percent increase in the use of alternative transportation (34 percent usage by staff in Fiscal Year 2015—16).
- Governance: CalSTRS’ culture of ethics, compliance and transparency permeates the organization’s operations, including laudable efforts in place to monitor cybersecurity and assess vulnerability, which revealed no breaches of customer privacy over the 2015—16 fiscal year.
The report also highlights CalSTRS’ work to provide financial literacy awareness and budget-related education as members plan for their retirement. Specifically, the organization recently redesigned an online interactive resource, 403bCompare.com, to provide members with supplemental savings planning and product comparison information. These tools encourage members to save early in their careers and illustrate how their savings can benefit from the power of time and compounding.
“Members are encouraged to attend our financial awareness workshops, which emphasize three phases of retirement planning over a member’s career, including how to grow savings and reduce debt, plan for future expenses, and protect their retirement income streams,” Mr. Ehnes said. “These interactive workshops are an integral part of retirement readiness for our members. They are designed to prepare future retirees for a defined benefit pension that replaces roughly 55 to 60 percent of their working salary after working an average of 25 years, particularly because they will receive no Social Security benefits for their CalSTRS-covered employment.”
As a 30-year horizon investor, CalSTRS continually focuses on integrating its corporate sustainability commitment across its portfolio through ongoing engagements and discussions that achieve global reach beyond Wall Street.
“Our approach to environmental, social and governance challenges embraces opportunities to expand global perspectives.”
CalSTRS Chief Executive Officer
Mr. Ehnes added: “Managing a multibillion dollar portfolio requires thoughtful diligence, ongoing in-depth analyses and engaged conversations to ensure a stable, risk-adjusted return profile over the long term. Our approach to environmental, social and governance challenges embraces opportunities to expand global perspectives while incorporating innovative solutions. Ultimately, we are focused on reaching performance targets in order to sustain the trust of more than 914,000 California educators and beneficiaries who are depending on CalSTRS to provide their retirement income well into the future.”
The California State Teachers’ Retirement System, with a portfolio valued at $202.8 billion as of March 31, 2017, is the largest educator-only pension fund in the world. CalSTRS administers a hybrid retirement system, consisting of traditional defined benefit, cash balance and voluntary defined contribution plans. CalSTRS also provides disability and survivor benefits. CalSTRS serves California’s more than 914,000 public school educators and their families from the state’s 1,700 school districts, county offices of education and community college districts.