And being a good steward extends beyond our role as investment partner with our clients—it includes our roles as employer, corporate citizen and thoughtful member of the global community.
Striving to constantly strengthen ourselves in each of these roles is reflected in a variety of initiatives—some new, some formed at our firm’s inception. Brandes was a pioneer in global investing; our all-inclusive worldview reinforces our conviction for various programs.
As long-term investors, we have seen the benefits of thoughtful analysis, acting faithfully on behalf of others, hard work and patience. We remain committed to applying these approaches as responsible stewards in every relationship we enter.
In the past, the firm and its partners have donated to various community-based charities where the firm operates. In August 2020, we established a donor-advised fund at The San Diego Foundation called the “Brandes Employees Community Investment Fund” (BECIF). Starting in 2021, the primary objective of BECIF is to make annual charitable grants to organizations focused on addressing social and environmental causes in communities where we have offices. We have established the BECIF Committee, a small committee of non-partner employees, to guide the grant recommendation process. We plan to grow the fund on an annual basis through contributions from the firm’s profits.
Over the years, the firm has moved to maximize a positive environmental impact. We work in a LEED (Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design) certified building. We moved from printed subscriptions (newspapers/magazines) to online only. We recycle trash, ink and toner cartridges, upgraded coffee machines, phased out providing Styrofoam cups and have encouraged colleagues to use their own, reusable mugs. We donate books and equipment to schools. All conference rooms are set up with A/V equipment, so less paper is needed at meetings. We retired desktop printers and moved to centralized and more efficient multi-functional printers where duplex and black & white printing being the default. In 2019, we established a small group called the Brandes Green Task Force to identify areas where we can make additional, impactful changes. The firm has committed to a donation and investment of time and effort to San Diego’s Balboa Park to plant 25-30 trees there in November 2021. In addition, we became a signatory to the United Nations “Principles for Responsible Investment” (UN PRI) confirming that we incorporate Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) factors into our investment process.
Our firm was founded on investing principles pioneered by Benjamin Graham. In fact, our founder, Charles Brandes, met Graham, talked with him and was inspired by his approach. Beyond his investment success, Graham was a life-long learner. In the same spirit, we seek to help employees learn and grow in various ways, such as enhancing work experience, training, e-learning tools, and mentoring. In addition, we provide tuition reimbursement and applicable certification reimbursement.
In addition, periodically, we conduct a Graham Course. While designed for newer hires, the course draws on Graham’s writing and provides a refresher for everyone. In offering this course, we hope colleagues better understand and appreciate the investing tenets upon which our firm is founded and can then share their conviction for our work with the clients and consultants we serve.
Initially created by select women leaders within the firm to help support and promote colleagues, especially newly hired women, the founders have formalized their efforts in recent years and promoted their work more widely.
In addition to providing mentorship and guidance, the network serves as an open forum to support leadership skills and career development for women at Brandes. The network also serves as an exchange for ideas on various issues. Among the tactics used:
The network also provides mentorship outside the firm through the Brandes RISE Mentorship Program for College Women.
As the network has grown, members continue to build ties among their colleagues and within the broader investment community to better navigate career paths.
Brandes is committed to promoting inclusion and diversity. We especially value the benefits that diversity of thought and different experiences can bring to our work. We have a long history of seeking such diversity within our organization. Across our firm and in the different locations where we operate, we seek to establish a culture that values inclusion and diversity, provides equal opportunity for career development and meets or exceeds all of our obligations in these areas—including accessible workplaces, gender equality, and community involvement. We seek to hire and develop colleagues who bring a diverse perspective and rich life experiences and who share our long-term vision to build a strong and enduring firm. We are committed to making employment decisions that focus on a person’s qualifications, talents and potential contributions. We strive to create an inclusive environment in which employees feel empowered to share their perspectives and raise issues without fear of reprisal.
Our firm is committed to sustaining and advancing a culture that unlocks the strength in diversity. The addition of an LGBT+ component to the firm’s Citizenship Program recognizes the importance of a welcoming and inclusive environment, one where people can not only be their authentic selves at work but also thrive and realize their fullest potential. Recognizing that our employees are our most valuable asset, we believe our actions today will positively benefit future efforts in talent acquisition while adding to the brand and promoting industry-wide initiatives already in progress.
Brandes Proud is comprised of two Co-Sponsors and an Advisory Board representing a diverse mix of employees and business areas. We focus on LGBT+ topics at the intersection of diversity, equity, respect and inclusion initiatives. Employees may volunteer or be invited to participate by the Co-Sponsors or Board members. The group welcomes ideas and best practice recommendations, in particular those that are supported by research and industry adoption. With a long-term view in mind, the group will also seek partnerships and opportunities with organizations that support our vision for industry and local community engagement.
We believe responsible corporate behavior, the promotion of sustainability, and sound governance practices contribute to the long-term performance of public companies. Such practices and behaviors address not only the interests of shareholders, but a broad range of a company’s stakeholders including creditors, employees, customers, suppliers, and the communities in which it operates.
The Brandes ESG Oversight Committee establishes and annually reviews broad objectives and practices to ensure that our investment staff has the adequate resources and ongoing training to stay current on relevant developments related to ESG (Environment, Social and Corporate Governance) issues. Reflecting our commitment to the integration of material ESG factors into our research and investment process, Brandes became a signatory to the United Nations-supported Principles for Responsible Investment Initiative in 2016.
For more details on our ESG-focused efforts, visit our website and read our “Responsible Investing” page, which includes information about engagement efforts, proxy voting and resources, among other topics.
Working hard for our constituents remains our primary goal. At the same time, we recognize the importance of work-life balance and offer resources and initiatives designed to help employees “live well”. We take a wholistic approach: whether it’s physical care, mental health support, financial wellbeing, or resources for a family member including pets. We strive to foster a diverse, equitable and inclusive environment. Through our inclusive benefits programs, we cater to a diverse range of needs promoting employee wellness at work and at home. Offering inclusive benefits is the right thing to do to contribute to health and wellbeing for all employees.