As an investor, Dalton aims to find companies exhibiting superior Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) standards, as it believes these companies tend to exhibit higher long-term sustainable operational performance. We also apply this lens to our own firm and aim to adopt best-in-class principles.
Alignment of Interest
A key element of Dalton’s investment philosophy is our belief that investing in companies where the firm’s decision-makers have an alignment of interests with minority shareholders may lead to superior risk-adjusted results. The main alignment of interest we find is where the key individuals at a company have material ownership in their company. We call these firms “owner-operators.”
Dalton is also an “owner-operator” firm, with the company’s equity held entirely by its employees (and their related entities). We are currently in the process of broadening this ownership across a larger number of employees, in an effort to instill the “owner mindset” in more of the Dalton team. We believe that being independent allows Dalton to make long-term focused decisions, which might be challenged under external or public ownership structures.
The second way in which Dalton aligns interests with its clients is to ensure that its investment team members have a material portion of their net worth invested in the firm’s strategies alongside clients. Each year, the investment team members are asked to reinvest at least 50% of any variable compensation in Dalton’s funds. Investment team members are also strongly discouraged from buying individual stocks in their personal accounts. We believe that this concept of “eating your own home cooking” serves to align the interests of Dalton’s investment team with those of its clients, leading to a primary focus on superior long-term performance of our strategies.
Diversity and Inclusion
Dalton believes strongly that diversity leads to better decision-making, both in the management of our client portfolios and in the management of our business. We also believe that diversity should be considered in multiple dimensions: age, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, socio-economic background, education, work experience, religious views and more. Dalton has a highly diverse work force, with 11 nationalities represented. The composition of the firm’s senior executives (including minority and female representation in the Chairman, CEO and CFO roles) also reflects our commitment to diversity. We are, however, conscious that we can always do more and are focused on ensuring we source diverse talent and challenge our internal biases.
Dalton is also aware that diversity alone is insufficient and, as such, we take active steps to improve inclusion. We believe that a welcoming work environment, which encourages diverse individuals to prosper, is an invaluable contributor to Dalton’s long-term success. As such, we undertake training around the topics of racism, inclusion and unconscious biases. We also have taken steps to align our firm policies with fostering the career growth of diverse individuals – for example, allowing for flexible working practices, providing for parental leave and supporting continuing education.
Dalton takes the well-being of its employees seriously, as it believes a healthy working environment is more productive for both the firm and our clients. We encourage our employees to take regular breaks (including in our communal areas, which have a wide range of complimentary healthy-eating options provided) and are also supportive of our employees taking time off to recharge on vacation. Finally, we provide a healthcare allowance (to be used on gym membership or home fitness equipment) to support the physical well-being of our employees.
Given Dalton’s focus on in-depth due diligence of Asian and emerging market companies, as well as our global client base, we view travel as a necessary part of our business for investment and client service purposes. We, however, encourage our employees to evaluate their travel arrangements and, where possible, develop efficient travel itineraries and/or use alternative forms of communication, such as video and teleconference technologies. In addition, we encourage all our staff to use carbon-offsetting programs when available.
Dalton takes active steps to minimize its environmental footprint in its Santa Monica headquarters. The office building is currently LEED Gold certified and holds an excellence rating by Energy Star. The facilities provide access to recycling, including e-waste, and provide highly efficient air filtering to ensure a healthy working environment. Within our own office space, we take a range of steps to ensure employees recycle where possible and encourage staff to reduce the use of resources, such as paper and single use plastic products, unless absolutely required.