Familiar faces: World’s most sustainable companies revealed

Unilever, LG and Sodexo have retained positions as industry leaders of the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), while the likes of Nestlé and Philips have climbed to the top of the rankings.

The 2016 edition of the DJSI – dubbed the “gold standard for corporate sustainability” – analysed 1,986 companies across a range of economic, environmental and social criteria. With the number of respondents to the index increasing by 141 compared to last year’s edition, DJSI and investment firm RobecoSAM selected the top 10% of businesses, before naming the top 24 businesses across each sector.

Operational eco-efficiency was a surprising low-point for this year’s edition, acting as the criteria where companies scored lowest. However, a rise in social responsibility has seen business conduct, corporate governance. environmental policy and management systems form a focal point for companies, and was the area with the highest scores for 2016.

The 2016 version of the index also revealed that major companies are struggling to improve on labour practices and human rights issues, noting that many companies have policies to tackle these issues in place, but that few are able to “comprehensively assess, mitigate and remediate” them.

Dow Jones Indices’ managing director David Blitzer said: “With 2016 likely to be the hottest year on record, investors are again reminded that companies’ environmental and sustainability efforts are crucial to their financial outcomes. The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices are comprehensive benchmarks of companies that meet RobecoSAM’s sustainability standards and give investors tools to develop global allocations that reflect sustainability factors.”

Meet the corporate kings

Unilever topped the Household and Personal Products Industry group, scoring 92 out of a possible 100. The company, which was previously listed as an industry leader in the Food Products Group, led the sector in 14 out of the 22 criteria. Driven by its Sustainable Living products, Unilever scored highly on supply chain management, brand management, packaging and corporate governance.

“We are proud to be awarded leadership status as first time members in the Household and Personal Products Industry Group,” Unilever’s chief sustainability officer Jeff Seabright said. “The result reflects the continued progress we are making in delivering the Unilever Sustainable Living Plan, driving long-term sustainable business growth and achieving our vision of making sustainable living commonplace.”

With Unilever moving over to the Household products group, Nestlé has been named as the industry leader in the Food group. The company scored 92 out of 100, including a perfect 100 score under environmental criteria, an achievement epitomised by the company’s supply chain efforts.

Elsewhere, Philips was named as an industry leader in the Capital Goods category for the first time after appearing in the index for the fourth consecutive year. For 2015, the company’s Green Product sales exceeded half of its total sales and it has since pledged to accelerate the roll-out of its LED bulbs.

“We are pleased to have achieved the leadership position in our industry,” Philips’ chief executive Frans van Houten said. “Our new program, Healthy people, sustainable planet, reflects our commitment to the universally agreed United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goals, especially those aimed at ensuring healthy lives and promoting well-being for all at all ages, and at encouraging sustainable consumption and production patterns.”

Sodexo was revealed as the industry leader in the Consumer Services group for the third year running. The 2016 edition marks the 12th consecutive year that Sodexo has appeared in the rankings, with the company’s work with charities underlining its CSR commitments.

While it was good news for the likes of Cisco Systems, Royal Dutch Shell and Adobe Systems, all of which were added to the index, 2016 saw Intel, Samsung Electronics and BT all failing to make the top 10%.

The DJSI’s credentials as the “gold standard” were damaged somewhat last year, after it had to revoke Volkswagen’s position as an industry leader due to the “dieselgate” fiasco.

Review Presentation 2016 by Matt Mace on Scribd

Matt Mace

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