Google, Apple and Honda have earned reputations that far exceed their actual environmental, social and governance (ESG) performance, while UBS and Citi don’t get enough credit for their sustainability initiatives, according to a report by Brandlogic and CRD Analytics.
The study (pdf) of 100 leading global brands across nine major industries found that 66 had perceived ESG performance that exceeded their actual performance. Such brands included Visa, AT&T, Starbucks, Yahoo! and Toyota.
But a number of brands outperformed their reputations. These included BP, Deutsche Bank, UPS, Roche and BHP Billiton.
Meanwhile, companies successfully publicizing their achievements include Intel, Abbott Labs, Cisco, Johnson & Johnson and GlaxoSmithKline, the report found.
The study used perceptual information from a Brandlogic global research study of supply chain managers, investment professionals and graduating university students. CRD Analytics – the sustainability investment analyst that powers the NASDAQ CRD Global Sustainability Index – used its SmartView platform to generate the performance ratings, employing quantitative and qualitative data from 175 performance metrics and five key performance indicators within each ESG area.
The report includes a Sustainability IQ Matrix (pictured above), a visual framework that plots each of the 100 companies across four quadrants: “Challengers,” “Leaders,” “Laggards” and “Promoters.” Leaders have relatively high performance and reputation; laggards show a relatively low commitment to ESG and low reputation; promoters are credited with ESG performance ahead of their actual achievement; and challengers do not get enough credit for their ESG performance.
“We want the 100 companies, as well as firms who were not analyzed, to look at the report and ask key questions about any reputational risks they may be facing and identify potential opportunities for improvement,” Brandlogic’s senior partner of strategy & research James Cerruti said. “Our goal is to help companies achieve results by better aligning their branding, communications, reporting and stakeholder engagement processes around these emerging priorities. ”
“Apple is a case where perception (53.5 score) is in front of reality (29.3 score),” said CRD Analytics president Michael Muyot. “However, the bigger question has less to do with where they are and more about what they’ll do to narrow the gap.”