Only 12% of Major Firms have Executive Team for Sustainability

by | Aug 27, 2009

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road1Many large corporations are merely paying lip service to their environmental policies, according to a new report from the Sustainable Enterprise Institute.

Among companies in the Russell 1000 Index, only 125 have an executive level committee with responsibility for corporate social responsibility or environmental, health and safety oversight, according to “The Road Not Yet Taken” report (PDF).

Only 54 of the firms, or just above 5 percent, have a “C” level executive responsible for such oversight.

About 60 percent of the firms have company-wide environmental policies, although very few of those firms have formalized documents on the topic. Instead, most firms address CSR or EHS in a CSR report or language on the company Web site, with many of them “not particularly substantive” according to the report.

This table shows the extent to which corporate environmental policies adhere to industry-standard definitions of sustainability.

road2To completely and adequately address environmental concerns, the Sustainable Business Index suggests that firms’ policies have these six elements:

  1. Board of directors has responsibility for the environmental policy.
  2. Policy specifically applies to all company operations.
  3. Policy includes commitments to quantifiable goals or targets.
  4. A commitment to public reporting.
  5. Policy addresses pollutant emissions.
  6. Policy addresses conservation of energy and/or water.

Only 40 percent of the firms in the Russell 1000 Index have at least one of the above aspects. Only eight firms have all six elements in their policy. Here’s a table illustrating firms’ commitment levels.


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