Worldwide Sustainability Reporting Leaders Ranked
27 November 2006 at 2:04 pm
A biannual survey released in London this month shows a shift in corporate attitudes to sustainability along with list of leaders in sustainability reporting.
The corporate leaders in sustainability reporting were announced by SustainAbility, Inc., a global think tank. Its biannual benchmarking survey, Tomorrow’s Value, marks BT as the global leader.
It ranks one American company – Nike, Inc. – in the top ten and four other US corporations in the top fifty. No Australian based companies appear in the top ten list.
Tomorrow’s Value, published in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Standard & Poor’s, ranks the world’s leaders in sustainability reporting, transparency and disclosure.
Strikingly, half of the Leading 50 companies are newcomers to the list, including five entrants from non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.
John Elkington, Founder and Chief Entrepreneur at SustainAbility says that since they began work in this area in 1992 there has been dramatic progress.
Elkington says the 2006 benchmark survey spotlights both a continuing improvement in report quality and the entry of new reporters like General Electric, with even non-reporters like Wal-Mart now lining up to report.
He says some of the most interesting reports now come from non-OECD countries. Their focus is different, concentrating on issues like black economic empowerment and new business approaches like micro-credit.
Throughout the Leading 50 survey several recurring themes appear including:
• Yesterday’s risks have become tomorrow’s opportunities for value creation.
Leadership companies are shifting the focus of their sustainability strategy away from risk management, towards a more progressive and entrepreneurial approach that seeks to identify the sustainability opportunities for strategic innovation and market building. However the pioneers are still a minority, representing only 28% of the Leading 50.
• Financial markets have begun to influence sustainability disclosure.
Cutting-edge sustainability reports are framed as part of a portfolio of information available to both socially responsible investment (SRI) funds and, increasingly, mainstream investors.
• Sustainability is being integrated into core business processes.
Most sustainability reports are only steps in that direction, but there has been a leap in the proportion of companies reporting the integration of sustainable development factors into core decision-making.
• Disclosure of public policy initiatives and lobbying remain insufficient.
Fewer than half of corporate reporters fail to sufficiently discuss and link their sustainability initiatives and commitments to their lobbying activities and to the wider influence they exercise, either directly or through trade organizations. Only 28% of the Leading 50 reporters covered this area meaningfully.
• International frameworks begin to provide context.
The report spotlights an emerging effort by some businesses to link their individual sustainability targets and activities with broader macro-frameworks, to provide a sense of scale and to help measure individual contributions.
The top ten are:
2006 Rank Company Country Percentage Score
1 BT UK 80%
2 Co-operative Financial Services UK 73%
3 BP UK 72%
4 Anglo Platinum South Africa 70%
4 Rabobank Netherlands 70%
6 Unilever UK/Netherlands 67%
7 MTR Hong Kong 66%
7 Vodafone UK 66%
9 Shell Group UK/Netherlands 65%
10 Nike United States 64%
10 Novo Nordisk Denmark 64%
The results in Tomorrow’s Value are based on an updated methodology and on a new selection protocol, both developed in close consultation with experts and reporting companies.
Rather than inviting own-submission of corporate reports (as in previous years), SustainAbility says it sought to identify eligible contenders on the basis of their performance across a range of sustainability and disclosure indicators that are publicly available.
The ranking process is subject to scrutiny and challenge by an independent panel of experts. Tomorrow’s Value is available from www.sustainability.com