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BOSTON, MA: A report on the sustainability progress of 613 U.S. public companies, representing nearly 80 percent of the country’s corporate assets, says they’re not doing enough to address issues that could impact their bottom line.

Produced by Ceres, an advocate for sustainability leadership representing a network of over 100 institutional investors with collective assets of more than US$12 trillion, the study says 58 percent of the companies surveyed now have supplier codes of conduct in their supply chains, up from 43 percent in 2012. However, only 33 percent engage suppliers on sustainability performance issues, compared to 27 percent in 2012.

genset denverThe report adds: “It’s ironic that even as the number of companies setting GHG emission reduction targets increases year over year, so few are looking at the opportunities to meet those goals through transportation and logistics.”

Of the 115 companies surveyed in the automotive and transportation, food and beverage, footwear and apparel, retail and technology hardware sectors, Ceres says there’s actually been a five percent drop since 2012 with only 46 percent doing anything to improve the environmental impact of their owned or outsourced logistics. The report cites Southwest, General Motors, Union Pacific (right) Cisco, Walmart and UPS as doing it right.

“Given the acceleration of environmental and social
challenges globally – floods, droughts, and workplace tragedies – most U.S. corporations are not keeping pace with the level of change,” said Mindy Lubber, president of Ceres. “Those that step up to the challenge will be best positioned to thrive in the rapidly changing, resource-constrained 21st century economy,” she added.

The study notes 24 percent of companies now link executive compensation to sustainability performance – up from 15 percent in 2012.

“This report is critical for investors because it reveals how well prepared or, in many cases, how poorly prepared individual companies are to thrive in an economy being profoundly shaped by sustainability risks and opportunities" commented Anne Stausboll, CEO of the California Public Employees’ Retirement System (CalPERS) – the largest public pension fund in the U.S. with over US$277 billion of assets under management.

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