World Mental Health Day: CCLA Global Benchmark on workplace mental health suggests CEO leadership integral to healthy workplaces

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The second annual CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100 + edition is out today – World Mental Health Day. It shows encouraging improvement in company practice in 110 of the world’s largest companies, but finds a continued lack of CEO advocacy. 

Here’s a summary of the key findings:

  • 95% of companies acknowledge mental health as an important business issue yet only 17% of CEOs have publicly signalled leadership commitment to mental health.
  • Analysis shows that the average benchmark score for companies with a publicly disclosed CEO statement is 75% higher than for those without.
  • Almost one in five companies has improved their management and disclosure on mental health since 2022, indicating that mental health is rising up the business agenda.
  • More needs to be done to create the conditions necessary for mental health to thrive. For instance, only 22% of companies report on providing mental health training to line managers.  

Investors taking notice

The CCLA’s global benchmark report of company performance on workplace mental health is the only one of its type in the world. With an estimated 12 billion working days lost globally each year to depression and anxiety alone at an annual cost of US$1 trillion in lost productivity[i], mental ill-health has become a material financial issue for investors.

This year’s Benchmark, covering 110 of the world’s largest listed companies, found a continued lack of CEO advocacy on mental health. Just 17% (19) companies – equivalent to 2022 findings – published evidence of a CEO statement promoting workplace mental health. Yet, the analysis suggests that the average benchmark score for companies that have a published CEO statement on mental health is 75% higher than for those that have not. While this finding does not prove a causal effect, it suggests a correlation between CEO leadership on workplace mental health and overall good corporate management of the issue. 

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Mental health continues to be accepted as an important business concern

Notably, one in five companies featured in the report have climbed the Benchmark as mental health continues to be universally accepted as an important business concern.

The low rate of CEO advocacy contrasts with the almost universal recognition by 95% of companies in the Benchmark of mental health as an important business concern (from 90% in 2022).

Elsewhere, 19 companies – representing a combined workforce of six million people – have moved up at least one performance tier since last year. Of these companies, three – Roche HoldingToronto-Dominion Bank, and TotalEnergies – have improved sufficiently to move up two tiers. 

Line managers remain ill-equipped to manage workplace mental health issues

Despite 78% of companies providing multiple mental health services and support channels and 60% investing in awareness raising initiatives, a surprisingly low number of companies (only 22%) report on the provision of mental health training to line managers. 

Amy BROWNE Stewardship Lead, CCLA, said: 

“The economic case for investment in mental health at work is clear. Research shows that for every US$1 invested in scaled-up treatment for depression and anxiety in the workplace, there is a US$4 return in better health and productivity.[ii] The way in which businesses respond should be a serious commercial consideration for companies and investors alike. 

The results suggest that most companies now dedicate resources aimed at dealing with the symptoms of ill-health. Few, however, are taking preventative action by ensuring managers are trained in the provision of healthy work environments. In a similar vein, only 25% of companies make the link between good mental health and the good work principle of fair pay and financial wellbeing.”

“While there have been notable and encouraging improvements, there is still significant work to be done to enable workers at the world’s largest employers to thrive,” continued Amy Browne.

The investor’s perspective

The Benchmark is supported by 48 investor signatories to the Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health, representing US$8.7 trillion in assets under management.

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Will POMROYHead of Impact Engagement – Equities, Federated Hermes Limited (a signatory to the Global Investor Statement on Workplace Mental Health), said: 

“Given many of us spend more time at work with our colleagues than we do at home with our friends and families, the responsibility on employers to safeguard and promote their employees’ mental wellbeing, as well as their physical and financial wellbeing is self-evident. Beyond being the right thing to do in and of itself, there is also a clear self-interest. Those companies that invest in their employees and provide decent work, benefit financially from higher productivity, lower turnover and higher levels of customer satisfaction. This research is helpful in shining a spotlight on the topic and encouraging better practice.”

Peter HUGH SMITH, Chief Executive, CCLA, said:

As investors, we call upon companies to not just recognise their moral responsibilities as an employer but to accelerate their efforts to turn their policies into action and to take the necessary steps to unlock economic value by creating conditions under which their employees can thrive.”

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark was created to bring company and investor attention to the compelling economic case for investment in mental health at work as a sustainable investment issue.  It evaluates how 110 of the world’s largest listed companies are approaching and managing workplace mental health based on the strength of their management commitments and public reporting.  Companies are then ranked across five tiers based on their overall scores. 

The CCLA Corporate Mental Health Benchmark Global 100+ is the sister benchmark to the UK 100 Benchmark, published in June 2023. Both benchmarks are independently conducted by Chronos Sustainability, the technical sustainability partner to CCLA. 

Join the conversation

Amy Browne will be leading a Think Tank session at the MAD World Summit on 12th October entitled “Investor spotlight on corporate mental health: are you ready?” The closed-door session will be an opportunity to dive deeper into insights from the 2023 Corporate Mental Health Benchmark – Global 100+. Attendees will also be able to learn more about the role of investors, share knowledge of best practice on mental health management and reporting, and consider whether a more consistent approach by employers could unlock progress at scale.

The Think Tank is for employers only. If you would like to be added to the guest list, contact [email protected].

You can also find more details about the Think Tank here and download the full CCLA Global Benchmark report here.

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