Ceres on Corporate Sustainability: “Turning Point” Research Effort Results

Posted on March 19, 2018 by Hank Boerner – Chair & Chief Strategist

We can view this as very encouraging news:  Ceres released a report – “Turning Point” — that shows almost two-thirds of 600 companies examined intend to reduce GHG emission; half have water management policies; and just under half of the companies are formally committed to “workers’ rights”. The current research effort is the third assessment of corporate progress against key expectations of the framework, “The Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability,” and is a follow up to Ceres’ “Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress” report in 2014.
The report used data from the ESG research organization Vigeo Eiris that examined 600-plus of the largest publicly-traded companies in the USA.
Says the Ceres researchers:  In looking at the 600+ companies for the best examples on sustainability leadership, a key finding is that “sustainability” is now overseen by senior executives in more companies (65% today, vs. 42% in 2014), and high-level corporate officers manage GHG reductions in 98% of the companies surveyed.
That’s the good news.  The “bad news,” as provided with examples by Brian Collett in our Top Story (commentary from TriplePundit), is that while corporate responders said they were committed to reducing GHG emissions (64% said “yes”), only 36% set clear goals.
The Ceres survey results at times sound like the familiar “I have good news for you/and bad news” jokes.  While 69% of companies say they are concerned about their supply chain environmental and societal impacts, only 34% have “the means to take action”.
While about one-third of companies conduct materiality assessments, only 6% can describe the results guiding their planning and decision-making. On “water control,” more than half of companies are “committed,” but only 15% have priority targets focused on high risk.
Author Collett tells readers that using data from Vigeo Eiris the good news is that a select number of leading brand marketers in the USA are indeed meeting Ceres’ research recommendations to the corporate sector (“intensify your sustainability actions”).
These companies include Citi, Coca-Cola, CVS Health, Gap, General Mills, Intel, Kellogg, Nike, and PepsiCo.  The CSOs at General Mills and Citi Group add their perspectives to the TriplePundit piece.
Commenting on the research effort, Betty T. Yee (Controller of the State of California) noted:  Turning Point is a critical tool for smart business decisions, providing investors and shareholders with helpful insights to better understand key sustainability trends and leading industry practices.”
Watch next week for G&A Institute’s update on in our annual Flash Report on the CSR/Sustainability reporting trends of the S&P 500® Index companies.
To read the Ceres’ “Turning Point” report:  https://www.ceres.org/resources/roadmap-for-sustainability
To learn more about the framework — Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability:  https://www.ceres.org/ceres-roadmap
This Week’s Top Story
600 Companies, More Senior Executives Commit to Sustainability Policies
(Monday – March 05, 2018) Source: Triple Pundit – Record numbers of the largest and most influential companies in the US have been found in new research to be committing themselves to ambitious sustainability policies.