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Safety, employment standards lack for commercial cleaners and guards: study

Many women and men working as cleaners and security guards in Canada's commercial buildings are getting a dirty deal, according to a study released by the Shareholders Association for Research and Education (SHARE).

SHARE is a nonprofit group that promotes responsible investments, particularly by institutional investors like pension funds. The organization says that responsible investment "... integrates environmental, social and governance (ESG) considerations into the investment management process."

The study, SHARE's second annual "Cleaning Up" document which assessed nine commercial real estate companies and five major commercial property tenants, says that some major Canadian companies have improved performance on employment standards and safety issues, but much work remains to be done to see employment and procurement practices in place that protect cleaning staff.

"Ensuring fair treatment of workers who clean, maintain and provide security at commercial properties in Canada remains a tough supply chain challenge for property management companies and major tenants" said Shannon Rohan, SHARE's Director of Responsible Investment and author of the report.

"This year we see incremental improvements in the quality of company contracting and procurement polices that address precarious employment in property service supply chains. Despite notable efforts however, the majority continue to fall short in explicitly outlining labour standard expectations to contractors and service providers."

SHARE provides responsible investment services, education, and research for institutional investors. It offers "...proxy voting, shareholder engagement and consulting services, courses and conferences, policy advocacy and timely research that help investors integrate environmental, social and governance issues into the investment management process," according to the press release announcing the release of the study.

The report "shows that there have been incremental improvements in the quality of company policies that address precarious employment practices in property service supply chain," with three firms, Oxford Properties, Brookfield Properties Corporation and CIBC showing marked improvements since last year's study.

However, the author says, the "vast majority" of company policies studied continue to fall short in explicitly outlining labour standard expectations to contractors and service providers.

Tom Sandborn covers labour and health policy beats for the Tyee. He welcomes your feedback and story tips at tos@infinet.net.


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