A GROWING number of S&P 100 companies are reporting on their environmental and social performance, according to a study by the Social Investment Research Analysts Network (SIRAN) conducted by the independent investment research firm KLD Research & Analytics, Inc.
There also is growing recognition of the Global Reporting Initiative‘s (GRI) sustainability reporting guidelines, with more than one-third of companies referencing the standards, according to the study.
However, those following the guidelines tend to do so loosely rather than “in accordance” with the guidelines. Only six companies reported “in accordance” with GRI, the same number as last year.
General Motors was the only company in the study to meet all seven criteria for online sustainability reporting. Other performers included Weyerhaeuser Company, Hewlett-Packard Company, Intel Corporation, Ford Motor Company and International Paper Company.
A complete list of companies and their results is posted here.
The survey, which was first conducted in 2005, sought to answer the following seven questions:
1. Does the company have a separate CSR/Sustainability section of its website?
2. Does the company have an annual CSR/Sustainability report?
3. Does the report reference the GRI in the report?
4. Does the company provide a GRI content index?
5. Does the report have goals and benchmarks?
6. Is the company a GRI Organizational Stakeholder?
7. Is the report produced “In Accordance” with the GRI?
Among the new findings:
- 79 companies in the S&P 100 now have special sections of their websites dedicated to sharing information about their social and environmental policies and performance, up 34% from last year when 59 did.
- 43 companies now issue annual CSR reports, up from the 39 companies.
- 34 companies say they base their CSR reports on the GRI’s reporting guidelines. This was up from 25 companies in 2005.
For the past several years, we have been tracking how large companies worldwide are communicating their social, environmental and corporate governance practices to investors. There is definitely an increase in activity, but companies still seem to be struggling with what information to provide to investors and how best to do so.
The challenge for companies’ IR departments is balancing the relatively low level of interest from the vast majority of investors with a very high level of interest from a highly influential segment of the investor population.
Our guidelines suggest a pragmatic approach. It never hurts to tell a good news story, but it is important for your company’s credibility to avoid marketese and apple pie.