Sustainable investment Corporate

Health – a multidisciplinary global challenge at the heart of La Française’s engagement

10 April 2024

From its asset management to its philanthropic initiatives, La Française puts health at the heart of its activities. By becoming a partner of LIPH, La Française is actively working to shape the strategies of economic players and to foster change in order to deal with public health issues while serving the interests of stakeholders.

Interview with Yingwei LIN, ESG analyst, to mark World Health Day.

As an engaged player in the Long-term Investors in People's Health (LIPH) initiative, what are your goals ? Why is healthcare a major issue for La Française and why did you choose LIPH ?  

Yingwei LIN: There are several reasons for our engagement. That said, for La Française, the overriding and key reason is to improve public health and lay the foundations for concrete and significant change on a major social issue.

In 2023, the social theme accounted for 44% of our collective and individual engagement, an increase on the 2022 figure. From 2022 onwards, we widened our scope of action on health-related issues from various angles to address broader topics than just human capital alone.

While the well-being of citizens is essential to contributing to long-term social and economic prosperity, it also helps to reduce public and private health-related spending.

Moreover, even though it is a basic right for everyone, it is under threat. Health is not limited to physical, mental and social well-being, but goes beyond the sole challenge of disease prevention or equitable access to care, for example. Social determinants1 of health in particular are all factors that can have a significant impact on a person’s state of health.

Our role is therefore to act collectively to bring about effective and lasting responses, but also to limit the cost of inaction. Through the LIPH programme and the Healthy Markets initiative, we are collaborating with ShareAction2and a coalition of investors representing $5.8 trillion to address these various challenges. In particular, we invest in three corporate public health pillars: 

  • Staff health: to promote a healthy working environment and conditions
  • Consumer health: to encourage healthier food and drink choices and make them more accessible to everyone.  
  • Community health: to limit pollution and other side effects of company activities on human health.

In addition, we are engaged with LIPH because the programme contributes to several Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), including SDG 3.4, which aims to combat non-communicable diseases, and SDG 2.2, which aims to end all forms of malnutrition.

Finally, every year on 7 April, the anniversary of the creation of the WHO in 1948, a theme is selected to shine a light on a major public health issue. This year, “My Health, My Right”3was chosen to highlight the notion that benefiting from conditions conducive to good health is a fundamental human right. Everyone has the right to access health services, as well as safe drinking water, clean air, good food, decent working and environmental conditions. 

The 2024 "My Health, My Right" initiative fully reflects our engagement within LIPH, demonstrating that our actions aim to address the most concrete and urgent health problems.


How are you doing within the LIPH programme? What are your missions?  Have your actions resulted in progress to date? 

Y.L.: La Française joined the LIPH programme in the third quarter of 2022, and we are one of the most active signatories.

We initiated our engagement to the "consumer health" pillar in order to address malnutrition by targeting global food manufacturers, UK retailers and the out-of-home food industry. Urbanisation goes hand-in-hand with a significant increase in the consumption of processed and ready-to-consume foods as well as many products which are high in calories, sugar or salt, which leads to increased rates of overweight and obesity in urban, peri-urban and rural areas.4In 2022, one in eight people worldwide were obese, and nearly 43% of adults and close to 20% of children and adolescents were overweight5.  These two factors are major risks for many non-communicable diseases (cardiovascular diseases, diabetes, cancer, neurological disorders, chronic respiratory diseases, digestive disorders) causing approximately 5 million deaths in 2019.

Together with a coalition of investors, we have co-signed letters to 12 of the world’s largest food manufacturers6. Our primary objective is to increase the supply of "healthy" products on the market by calling upon manufacturers to set targets to increase the proportion of sales of "healthier" products in their overall turnover, according to recognised standards that define foods qualified as healthy in terms of public health. Finally, we want this figure to be published every year.

In 2023, we carried out several initiatives specifically with Nestlé, as a global leader in the agri-food industry. During our numerous meetings, we explained the importance for the company to commit to such an approach and to become a model in its sector by strengthening its social responsibility and seizing the economic opportunities that arise from it. As a result of our regular dialogue, we obtained a first positive step from Nestlé, which was nevertheless insufficient in view of the ambition of the initiative.

Consequently, we persisted with our engagement by co-signing a public letter to Nestlé’s CEO, along with statements and quotes from the press, and launched a shareholder resolution against Nestlé to be voted on at the 2024 AGM. This collective resolution has been widely reported in the media7 so that as many people as possible are informed and can take individual action.

What are your targets for 2024?

Y.L.: We will pursue our existing engagement and think about how to maximise our impact. The dialogues we have with companies and the collaborations we have initiated with various organisations and investors allow us to better understand these challenges and identify best market practices.

As an investor, we are aware of our responsibility to our clients, employees, other stakeholders and civil society. We will therefore strive to act individually and collectively to monitor, raise awareness and encourage the companies in which we invest to improve their sustainability performance.  

We will also strengthen our engagement by continuing our joint work on the three pillars and, more specifically, through programmes on mental health in the workforce and the community. 

On the consumer health pillar, as stated above, we will table a resolution at the Nestlé General Meeting on 18 April with a group of five investors with a combined $1.68 trillion in assets under management, including the UK’s largest asset manager – Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM) – to follow up on our 2023 actions8.

Following our campaign to increase pressure on Nestlé, we also intend to turn our attention to Unilever with the same level of ambition. We have already held a meeting in 2024 and are currently waiting for a response from Unilever this month, before adapting our equity strategy. 

Finally, we will remain open to new areas of engagement that could complement our social theme and allow us to partner with other investors in order to share ideas and best practices.

Disclaimer: This commentary is provided for information and educational purposes only. The opinions expressed by La Française Group are based on the current market situation and are subject to change without notice. These opinions may differ from those of other investment professionals.

1 According to the WHO definition, determinants of health are “personal, social, economic and environmental factors that determine the health status of individuals or populations": income, education, employment, social contexts, public policies, for example.
ShareAction is a responsible investment NGO that strives to set the highest standards for responsible investment. ShareAction’s “Long-term Investors in People’s Health” (LIPH) initiative supports investors to consider population health – and the factors that influence it – within their investment decision-making, their voting and their company engagement practices.
According to the WHO, at least 140 countries – the UN recognises 195 countries in the world – identify health as a fundamental human right in their constitution. Yet 4.5 billion people, more than half of the world’s population, were not fully covered by essential health services in 2021. 
Urbanization and Obesity | Obesity Prevention Source | Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health
5 Obesity and overweight (
AG Barr, Britvic, Coca-Cola, Danone, General Mills, Kellogg’s, Kraft Heinz, Mondelez, Nestlé, PepsiCo, Premier Foods, Suntory Beverage & Food
7 Nestlé shareholders call on food giant to reduce reliance on unhealthy products I Financial Times Nestlé sous la pression de ses actionnaires pour limiter ses ventes de « malbouffe » I Les Echos Nestle Faces Investor Challenge Over Healthy Food Targets I Bloomberg
Shareholders file health resolution at Nestlé: Legal and General Investment Management (LGIM), Candriam, La Francaise Asset Management, Coöperatie VGZ et Guys and St Thomas' Foundation.

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