Japanese giants lead the CSR pack

An analysis of the corporate and social policies of leaders of the electronics and semiconductor industries has placed Japanese firms in the top two slots, followed by companies from the USA and Europe.

Every year the Roberts Environmental Centre at California’s Claremont McKenna College looks at the ethical intentions, and perhaps more importantly the performance, of several key global industries including forestry, oil, mining and metals.

This week the centre published the results of its scrutiny of the hi-tech electronic industries that provide us with everything from computer chips and mobile phones to vacuum cleaners and stereos.

Standing head and shoulders above the competition as the only company to warrant an A+ grade was Hitachi, followed by another Japanese giant, Matsushita.

Two American companies, Applied Materials and Intel, were also awarded A grades, as was Dutch firm Royal Philips Electronics.

Familiar household names from the Far East such as Sony, Samsung, Sharp, Toshiba, Sanyo and Sweden’s Electrolux were all within the respectable B bracket while the D grades were mainly reserved for companies from the USA.

The only grade lower than a D given out by the centre was an appalling F, reserved for Taiwanese company Hon Hai Precision Industries.

The findings are based on the information from the web sites of the largest 30 companies in the electronics and semiconductor sectors of the 2005 Fortune Global 500 lists as of October 18, 2005.

The results take into account how well the companies meet social and environmental criteria in terms of transparent reporting, stated policy and its implementation.

As might be expected intention far outweighs action, with most companies publicising plans to dramatically reduce waste, emissions, energy use and water use, for example.

More often than not these goals have not been achieved as yet, but do demonstrate the companies’ willingness to put their necks on the line and make moves in the right direction.

When it comes to reporting, the trends are less clear-cut, with some companies apparently happy to be frank about their failures and successes while others tend to operate behind closed doors.

In these sectors the most reported environmental variables were energy used, waste disposed of, and research and development into green technologies.

The most reported social information was employee health and safety, compliance with a code of business conduct, and the training of employees.

The full report can be found on the centre’s website, along with the results from other sectors recently analysed.

Sam Bond

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