Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Sustainability report highlights need for improvement

A new report on corporate sustainability in the United States reveals individual examples of leadership but significant need for overall improvement.

Ceres and Sustainalytics assessed 600 U.S. companies on environmental and social challenges such as climate change and water scarcity.

"While there are encouraging pockets of sustainability leadership in the U.S. business community, far too many companies are only taking small, incremental steps," said Ceres president Mindy Lubber. "Sustainability has yet to gain traction at anywhere near the scale and speed required given the global threats we face."

"We're encouraged by the leadership shown by some companies and expect that their success will spur others to better leverage sustainability to identify risks and seize opportunities in an increasingly competitive global marketplace," added Michael Jantzi, CEO at Sustainalytics,.

The report highlights dozens of company examples in hopes of inspiring others to take similar actions. "For instance, Alcoa, Xcel and Intel are relative pacesetters in sustainable corporate governance practices; Baxter and Ford are setting a high standard in stakeholder engagement; and Exelon, Nike and the Coca-Cola Company are ahead of the pack in performance on metrics for reducing environmental impact and improving workers conditions," a press release announcing the report states.

In the report's four-tier assessment system, just a quarter of all companies surveyed were in the top two tiers for progress on governance, while 24% have some degree of meaningful stakeholder engagement. On corporate performance metrics, only 13% of the companies evaluated on human rights policies and programs were ranked in the top two tiers. And just a third of the 600 companies had time-bound targets for reducing greenhouse gas emissions in direct operations.

Lubber and Jantzi said companies are missing a big opportunity by not fully embracing sustainability. "We see it as a world of opportunity for companies to improve competitiveness, realize large savings through energy efficiency, invest in their workers, strengthen their supply chains and, in many sectors, reap the benefits of the enormous investment opportunities in clean technology and clean energy," they wrote in the report.

1 comment:

  1. It is good to hear that situation is improving. Thanks to the pressure from customers companies are focusing more and more on putting "a human face" of their business. Unfortunately, this change is still slow and some of them are releasing just more press releases than doing anything significant... In the end of the day it is still easier to pay low wages than improve energy efficiency.