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Responsible investing involves considering environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors when deciding how to invest sustainably.

Find out more about our guiding principles for being a responsible investor.

When investing the Health Foundation’s endowment, our investment team must balance the need for financial return against our desire to be a responsible investor and asset owner. We want our investment decisions to have a positive impact on the world and support the transition to a more sustainable economy. In particular, we’ve set a really important ambition to be carbon neutral in our investments by 2035. 

In 2020, four responsible investment guiding principles were incorporated into our ‘statement of investment policy’, formalising our ambition and commitment to work towards becoming a more responsible investor. These guiding principles align with the Health Foundation’s four values: independence, collaboration, evidence-based approaches, and constructive challenge.

Our responsible investment guiding principles 

Principle 1: Provide constructive challenge with an open mind

We work closely with those responsible for investing our endowment to ensure their environmental, social and governance policies and engagement practices align with the Foundation’s mission and values

Principle 2: Independent 

We provide measured and relevant challenge where necessary in order to maintain our independence and act as a responsible asset owner. 

Principle 3: Informed by evidence and experience

We monitor and evaluate our investments to help us achieve our ambition to halve the carbon emissions of our investments by 2028 (using 2019 as a base) and reach net zero by 2035. Specifically, we also have an ambition to report impact against two of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (3: Good health and wellbeing and 13: Climate action). 

Principle 4: Collaborate to make greater impact

As a responsible asset owner, we employ a strategy of positive engagement over exclusion. This means, where possible, we invest and work alongside organisations to bring about positive change, as long as there is no conflict of interest within the field of public health and health care. Specifically, we do not invest in tobacco stocks. 

What does this mean in practice? 

We’re taking action in three main ways to ensure we embed our four responsible investment guiding principles into the management of our endowment:  


We carry out continual monitoring and evaluation of our investments, ensuring we understand exactly which companies we own across all of our investment areas, and how we can be sure we are investing in line with our responsible investment principles.  


We guide and monitor our investment managers to ensure they engage with companies to improve ESG outcomes. This engagement supports our ambition to reach net zero in our investments by 2035. We work actively with our investment managers to look at decarbonisation pathways for our current investments, as well as educating them on the driving forces behind population health and the actions companies can take to meet world goals for health and sustainability.  


As with all of the Health Foundation’s work, we are keen to work with others to make change. We’re involved in a range of investor initiatives, working alongside sector and industry partners to push for change and improved sustainability in business:

ShareAction’s Healthy Markets Investor Coalition

Through this coalition we steered food producers and retailers held in our portfolio to improve their public reporting and make their food healthier.

  • Nestlé agreed to and reported on the healthiness of sales globally and in 13 key markets using recognised government-endorsed nutrient profiling models. Nestlé will additionally report its target for increasing healthy food sales. 
  • Unilever agreed to raise the nutritional profile of products and provide nutritional transparency against its own nutritional profiling model, with regular coalition check-ins. 

Access to Nutrition Initiative (ATNI)

During 2023 we signed up to the ATNI’s Investor Expectations. ATNI publishes a Global Index on the world’s largest food and beverage manufactories, assessing their performance in providing nutrition. The initiative offers collaboration with companies, investors and policymakers.

ShareAction’s Long-term Investors in Public Health (LIPH)

Co-funded by the Health Foundation, the LIPH programme provides an invaluable framework to assess company ESG risks and opportunities from the perspective of ‘health’ to help steward engagements and inform the allocation of capital. The framework consists of three core pillars:

  1. Consumer health, which focuses on food manufacturers and retailers’ nutrition policy, health reporting and disclosure.
  2. Community health, which is developing an initiative on air quality.
  3. Worker health, which focuses on the fundamentals of Good Work, such as employee health, living wage and living hours.

Investor Coalition on UK Food Policy

We’re a member of this coalition on UK food policy, an initiative engaging policymakers with recommendations for how large food businesses should report on healthy and sustainable food sales.
Find out more

Charities Responsible Investment Network
This important peer network collaborates on topics including decarbonisation and diversity, equity and inclusion.
Find out more 

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