Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Europe leads US and Asian companies in Eiris ratings

June 2012

European companies are outstripping their US and Asian counterparts on sustainability, says the latest Eiris report produced ahead of this summer’s Rio+20 conference.

The German sportswear manufacturer Puma is named the global leader in the ratings, with the UK drugs company GlaxoSmithKline and the Dutch electronics group Philips also scoring highly.

A fifth of UK companies scored A, the highest of five grades, based on sustainability performance, followed by 12% of continental European companies. Only 2% of US companies and 1% of Asian enterprises make the top grade in the report, entitled On Track for Rio+20? How are global companies responding to sustainability?

Mark Robertson, the report author and head of communications at Eiris, said: “Big differences in corporate sustainability performance exist at the global and regional level. Tighter sustainability legislation in Europe and more public awareness contribute to this difference.

“Given these differences, it is vital that investors use their influence as shareholders to drive improvements in sustainability performance.”

Other high-ranked companies include Novartis, the Swiss pharmaceuticals group, and Philips Electronics, while the lowest-graded included some strong consumer brands, most notably Apple and Google, which were both given D ratings. ExxonMobil, the world’s second biggest company, was deemed to have shown poor performance in biodiversity, climate change and water management during the past year.

Puma was singled out – despite operating in a sector with a high level of human rights abuses – for its strong environmental record and improvements in supply chain labour standards. Bus service company FirstGroup came second, having achieved “major improvements in reducing its environmental impacts”.

Eiris research chief Carlota Garcia-Manas 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 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 on society and the environment in a sustainable way, both now and in the future.”

Eiris added: “If the UN conference on sustainable development is to be successful in promoting the shift to a greener and fairer economy, companies and their investors must be fully engaged in the 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.”

Ethical Investment Research Service | Global | Sustainability


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