New Report Grades Sustainability Reporting of New York Fortune 1000 Companies

Feb 24, 2009, 10:00 ET from Claremont McKenna College

Roberts Environmental Center gives top marks to McGraw Hill, low marks to Citigroup

CLAREMONT, Calif., Feb. 24 /PRNewswire/ -- The Roberts Environmental Center of Claremont McKenna College (CMC) today released a detailed analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of New York's top corporations. Titled "Analysis of Sustainability Reporting in New York Public Companies," the report contains a compilation of Pacific Sustainability Index scores evaluating the environmental and social reporting of the 91 New York companies on the 2008 Fortune 1000 list.

The report scores companies based on the reporting, intent, and performance of environmental and social sustainability efforts. The research, based entirely on material released on the firms' Web sites, found that several of the largest firms--IBM, Time Warner, Alcoa, and Hess--did very good jobs of publicizing details of their socially beneficial actions and environmental management. Several smaller firms--Pepsi Bottling Group, Avon Products, Estee Lauder, and McGraw-Hill--were not far behind. The lowest scores were shared by two of the smallest firms on the list--Icahn Enterprises, a real estate developer, and NBTY, a maker and distributor of nutritional supplements--and one of the largest, Citigroup.

"From our previous work on the sustainability reporting of multinationals from many industrial sectors, we were not surprised that larger companies generally performed better than smaller ones," said J. Emil Morhardt, Roberts Professor of Environmental Biology at CMC and director of the Roberts Environmental Center. "They have greater visibility, are likely to be examined by investors and the public more closely, and they have more resources to do the data collection and reporting in the first place." But, as Morhardt pointed out, "There are always some smaller companies that are proactive in this area, usually those that believe demonstrations of corporate environmental and social responsibility are expected from their customers."

To create the report's ranking, Morhardt and his team evaluated each New York-based Fortune 1000 company's Web site using an abbreviated version of the Pacific Sustainability Index that excludes sector-specific questions. The index uses a general systematic questionnaire to analyze the quality of sustainability reporting. The selection of questions was based on the most frequently-mentioned topics in almost 1,800 corporate sustainability documents analyzed from 2002 through 2008 by the Roberts Environmental Center. The companies' grades in this report were assigned on a grading curve, giving an A+ to the highest scoring company in the New York sample.

"In the current business climate, a demonstration of corporate social responsibility is more important than ever," continued Morhardt. "What we are analyzing is the quality of that demonstration--how transparent the companies are with respect to their environmental and social issues, and how good a job they are doing resolving any problems they currently have and avoiding future ones."

The detailed analyses also reveal what social and environmental themes these companies perceive to be most important to the American public today. The research screened Web site content to determine the most frequently reported topics. Companies with environmental achievements tended to tout their accountability and energy efficiency efforts while socially responsible businesses highlighted their superior policies and care for human rights.

To view the complete report, visit:

About Roberts Environmental Center

The Roberts Environmental Center is an environmental research institute at Claremont McKenna College located in Claremont, Calif. Its mission is to provide students with a comprehensive and realistic understanding of today's environmental issues and the ways in which these issues are being and can be resolved. The Center strives to identify, publicize, and encourage policies and practices that achieve economic and social goals in the most environmentally benign and protective manner.

    "Analysis of Sustainability Reporting in New York Public Companies"
    Scoring Summary

    Highest Overall Scores
    Time Warner

    Highest Environmental Reporting Scores
    Estee Lauder

    Highest Social Reporting Scores
    Avon Products

    Lowest Overall Scores
    Icahn Enterprises

SOURCE Claremont McKenna College