In Canada, some pension funds have amped up their engagement frequency and are talking with companies weekly to help them through the crisis.
The C$207.4 billion ($148 billion) Ontario Teachers' Pension Plan, Toronto, recruited Boston Consulting Group Inc. to help companies in its portfolio to understand government support programs that have been created around the globe, and hired KPMG LLC to help portfolio companies work under these programs, said Jane Rowe, executive managing director and head of the equities department, in a recent online discussion hosted by the Canadian Club of Toronto.
Other investors are focusing on challenges faced by companies in certain sectors.
For example, APG's Ms. Pot said her approach to portfolio apparel companies involves checking if companies have protected the health and the safety of their workers and how they have dealt with suppliers since the virus outbreak. The fund's expectation is that its companies pay for goods that have already been made in suppliers' factories and honor contracts, she said.
It also is reaching out to companies such as GAP Inc. to see if these contracts were honored, she said.
Adam Matthews, director of ethics and engagement at the £2.8 billion ($3.5 billion) Church of England Pensions Board, London, said in a telephone interview that some companies are unnecessarily putting staff at risk. He added that the fund has contacted a number of companies to highlight its expectations about health and safety of employees, particularly workers at mining companies.
"We are acutely conscious of the pressure in some sectors where executives had to fight the immediacy of the challenges as ports closed and supply chains were disrupted," he said.
Mr. Matthews added that the fund adjusted timelines on other expectations to enable executives to focus on the immediate response to the crisis. For example, the fund delayed upcoming deadlines on mining companies in its portfolio to meet its expectations for waste disposal.
"We have responsibility to help companies navigate this challenging time, and we have responsibility to be supportive of them, but at the same time this doesn't mean we will be supportive at the expense of other things that are important, for example health and safety (of workers)," he said.