GLOBE-Net May 1, 2012 - UK and continental
European companies are outstripping their US and Asian
counterparts, according to a EIRIS' latest report.
The German sportswear manufacturer Puma is named a global leader
in EIRIS' Sustainability Ratings report with
British drugs company GlaxoSmithKline and the Dutch electronics
company Philips also scoring highly.
A fifth of UK companies score A (the highest of five grades)
based on their sustainability performance, followed by 12 per cent
of mainland European ones. But only 2 per cent of US companies and
1 per cent of Asian ones make the top grade in EIRIS' Global
"Big differences in corporate sustainability performance exist
at the global and regional level. Tighter sustainability
legislation in Europe and more public awareness contributes to this
difference" said Mark Robertson, report author and Head of
Communications at EIRIS. "Given these differences it is vital that
investors use their influence as shareholders to drive improvements
in sustainability performance" he added.
EIRIS' report 'On track for Rio+20? How are global companies
responding to sustainability?' analyses the sustainability
performance of 50 of the world's largest companies (by market cap).
The highest-ranked largest companies include Novartis, the Swiss
pharmaceutical group, and French group Sanofi. In contrast, some
strong consumer brands, most notably Apple and Google, both receive
Top 10 Global Sustainability Leaders
1: Puma despite operating in a sector at high
risk for human-rights abuses, Puma has a strong environment record
and demonstrates improvements in supply chain labour
2: FirstGroup derives more than 90 per cent of
sales from rail and bus services and the company has made major
improvements in reducing its environmental impacts.
3: National Australia Bank Owner of Clydesdale
and Yorkshire banks trains staff to understand and identify
environmental and social risks when doing business.
4: GlaxoSmithKline scores well across the board,
demonstrating particular strengths in providing drugs cheaply to
5: Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company has a
strong equal-opportunities policy and operates an advanced code of
ethics with strong anti-bribery rules.
6: Novartis, another Swiss pharmaceutical
company, has strong environmental reporting and a good anti-bribery
7: Philips Electronics, the Dutch electronics
company, has made significant progress on environmental issues,
particularly through increasing the energy-efficiency of its
8: Deutsche Börse, the German stock exchange,
scores highly for its strong practices in relation to environmental
issues, corporate governance and stakeholder engagement.
9: Novo Nordisk, the Danish pharmaceutical
company, has reduced its water use and its all-round environmental,
social and governance record is strong.
10: Go-Ahead Group, the UK bus and train company,
has a strong record on the environment.
... and those with room for improvement
- Apple, the world's biggest company, gets a D
in EIRIS' sustainability ratings and lags behind other tech
companies. The company needs to do more to address sustainability
challenges - particularly those related to supply-chain risks.
- ExxonMobil, the world's second biggest
company, shows poor performance in the areas of biodiversity,
climate change and water management.
- Toyota, the Japanese car maker, produces
greener cars, but lags behind rivals on human-rights and
supply-chain-labour standards, earning it a C.
- Chevron along with other major oil and gas
producers, including ConocoPhillips and Occidental Petroleum, is
given the lowest ranking.
Carlota Garcia-Manas, Head of Research at EIRIS said: "There are
signs that companies are making sustainability a priority and
acknowledging its importance, not only in terms of acting as good
'corporate citizens' but also in terms of ensuring their own
long-term success. However, it's clear that companies need to do
much more if they are to meet the concerns of their stakeholders
and investors whilst managing the impacts of their businesses upon
society and the environment in a sustainable way, both now and in
If the UN conference on sustainable development is to be
successful in promoting the shift to a greener and fairer economy,
both companies and their investors must be fully engaged in the
sustainability debate. Rio+20 offers an important opportunity to
advance the concerted action needed by financial institutions,
business and governments alike to support the transition to a more
long-term, sustainable and resilient economy.
Click here to download a copy of the report.