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‘Sustainability Leaders’ Revealed – But Most Firms Fall Short

While most large companies fall short of sustainability leadership, 10 including Ford, GE and Panasonic present best practices for other businesses to emulate, according to sustainability advisor Two Tomorrows.

Less than a third of the largest companies scored over 70 percent, the threshold for “sustainability leadership” in the 2012 Tomorrow’s Value Research (TVR), the firm’s annual assessment of corporate sustainability practices.

Other best practices come from Citibank, HSBC, Hyundai Engineering, Repsol, Stockland, Swiss RE and Westpac Bank.

TVR says Ford and Panasonic set targets for categories including climate change and environment, water and supply chain. The goals are measurable — such as Ford measuring facility carbon emissions or number of seats containing soy foam — and have timelines.

GE’s Ecomagination program measurably improves the company’s environmental performance, TVR says. In 2010, the company introduced 22 new Ecomagination products.

HSBC admits where it hasn’t reached sustainability targets and determines why it has fallen short, while Citibank engages stakeholders in its sustainability decision-making.

Companies are increasingly aware of sustainability issues and actively integrate sustainability into core business strategy and decision-making, the report says. However, as they become more responsive to the Global Reporting Initiative sustainability reporting guidelines and other reporting frameworks, they are failing to adequately put their performance into context.

The report says even many 2011 DJSI Supersector Leaders — the top performers in each of the supersectors in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index — fall short of sustainability leadership. Only 10 scored higher than 70 percent.

Now in its ninth year, the TVR examined sustainability programs of the 25 largest companies by revenue in each of three regions: the Americas, Asia/Australia, and Europe, the Middle East and Africa (EMEA). Healthcare was the worst performing sector, it says, with an average score of 19 percent.

On average, the 19 DJSI Supersector Leaders performed better than the largest 25 companies in each of the regions. DJSI Supersector Leaders’ average score was 69 percent, compared to 54 percent for the largest 25 companies.

GE and Ford lead their peers in the innovation of clean-tech solutions and products, mitigation of climate change-related risks and management of carbon emissions, according to a rating by risk analysis company Maplecroft published earlier this year.

In TVR 2011, Two Tomorrows said Campbell’s, Danone, GE, Glaxosmithkline, HP, Intel, Nestlé, Nike, Panasonic, Siemens and Unilever were the companies most deserving of their top places within sustainability rankings.

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