Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Big business making too little progress on sustainability

April 2014

Big business is doing too little and making too little progress on sustainability according to oekom’s latest Corporate Responsibility Review 2014.

Over the last year, there has been little movement in the ratings of the large listed companies based in industrialised countries and operating internationally which oekom research regularly analyses on behalf of a wide range of investors.

Only around one in six companies (16.8%) meet the minimum sector-specific sustainability management requirements defined by oekom research and have thus been awarded oekom Prime Status (as at 31 Dec 2013).

Compared to 2012, this proportion has risen only slightly, by 0.1%. However, the proportion of companies with a poor sustainability performance has also risen. This currently stands at 53.1%, while in 2012 it was 52.3%. Just under a third of the companies (30.1%) have taken at least initial steps towards sustainability management, but relevant issues are still not systematically and comprehensively integrated in their management systems.

In the country comparison, companies from Finland and Germany came out on top. Just over 64% of the relevant Finnish companies achieved oekom Prime Status, while the figure for German companies was 58.3%. They were followed by Italy (50.0%), the Netherlands (40.7%) and France (40.3%). In Austria, one in three companies performed well enough to meet the standard, while in Switzerland the proportion was just over one in four.

Fewer than one in ten US and Canadian corporations met the requirements, and Japan, as in previous years, came bottom, with 7.7%.

In the sectoral comparison, manufacturers of household products achieved the highest rating for their sustainability management, with an average score of 46.3 out of a possible 100. The automotive industry ranked 2nd in the industry rating, with an average score of 42.7. The oil & gas industry (22.4) and the real estate sector (18.4) languished at the bottom of the ranking.

“Violations of human rights and labour rights, infringements of environmental standards and corruption are still widespread among large international corporations,” declared Matthias Bönning,coo and head of research.  

oekom | Global | Corporate Responsibility


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