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From Risk Reduction to Value Creation: Worldwide Sustainability Reporting Leaders Ranked

From Risk Reduction to Value Creation: Worldwide Sustainability Reporting Leaders Ranked

Published 11-09-00

Submitted by SustainAbility

New York, NY - Corporate leaders in sustainability reporting were announced today by SustainAbility, Inc., a leading global consulting firm and think tank. This biannual benchmarking survey, Tomorrow's Value, marks BT as the global leader and ranks one American company - Nike, Inc. - in the top ten and four other US corporations in the top fifty.

Tomorrow's Value, published in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Standard & Poor's, ranks the world's leaders in sustainability reporting, transparency and disclosure. Strikingly, half of the Leading 50 companies are newcomers to the list, including five entrants from non-OECD (Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development) countries.

"Since we began work in this area in 1992, we have seen dramatic progress," commented John Elkington, Founder and Chief Entrepreneur at SustainAbility, at the London press conference. "Our 2006 benchmark survey spotlights both a continuing improvement in report quality and the entry of new reporters like General Electric, with even non-reporters like Wal-Mart now lining up to report. Some of the most interesting reports now come from non-OECD countries. Their focus is different, concentrating on issues like black economic empowerment and new business approaches like micro-credit."

Throughout the Leading 50 several recurring themes are evident, including:


  • Yesterday's risks have become tomorrow's opportunities for value creation.
    Leadership companies are shifting the focus of their sustainability strategy away from risk management, towards a more progressive and entrepreneurial approach that seeks to identify the sustainability opportunities for strategic innovation and market building. However the pioneers are still a minority, representing only 28% of the Leading 50.



  • Financial markets have begun to influence sustainability disclosure.
    Cutting-edge sustainability reports are framed as part of a portfolio of information available to both socially responsible investment (SRI) funds and, increasingly, mainstream investors.

  • Sustainability is being integrated into core business processes.
    Most sustainability reports are only steps in that direction, but there has been a leap in the proportion of companies reporting the integration of sustainable development factors into core decision-making.



  • Disclosure of public policy initiatives and lobbying remain insufficient.
    Fewer than half of corporate reporters fail to sufficiently discuss and link their sustainability initiatives and commitments to their lobbying activities and to the wider influence they exercise, either directly or through trade organizations. Only 28% of the Leading 50 reporters covered this area meaningfully.



  • International frameworks begin to provide context.
    The report spotlights an emerging effort by some businesses to link their individual sustainability targets and activities with broader macro-frameworks, to provide a sense of scale and to help measure individual contributions.


    At today's New York announcement, SustainAbility's US Director Jeff Erikson moderated a panel including Chris Tuppen, Head of Sustainable Development and Corporate Accountability for BT; Dan Henkle, Senior Vice President, Social Responsibility for Gap Inc.; Ernst Ligteringen, Chief Executive for Global Reporting Initiative (GRI); and Cliff Griep, Executive Managing Director of Analytical Policy and Research for Standard & Poor's.

    "We are pleased to be recognized for our work in the area of corporate sustainability reporting. In collaboration with partners from around the world seeking to promote long-term solutions, Gap strives to effect change throughout the industry. Our ranking at 34 confirms we are on the right track, but also motivates us to continue to evolve our sustainability reporting," stated Henkle.

    Griep concurred that Tomorrow's Value provides continued encouragement to users of financial statements and the research community, that will "...increasingly cement the value of transparency and disclosure in the financial marketplace, particularly as it relates to environmental, social, and governance initiatives."

    In addition to Nike, Inc. at #10, other US companies that made the Leading 50 reporters include Hewlett-Packard Company at #14, General Electric Company and Ford Motor Company tied at #22, and Gap Inc. at #34. The top ten are:

    2006 RankCompanyCountryPercentage Score
    2Co-operative Financial ServicesUK73% 
    4Anglo PlatinumSouth Africa70%
    7MTRHong Kong66%
    9Shell GroupUK/Netherlands65% 
    10NikeUnited States64%
    10Novo NordiskDenmark64%

    The results in Tomorrow's Value are based on an updated methodology and on a new selection protocol, both developed in close consultation with experts and reporting companies. Rather than inviting own-submission of corporate reports (as in previous years), SustainAbility sought to identify eligible contenders on the basis of their performance across a range of sustainability and disclosure indicators that are publicly available. The ranking process is subject to scrutiny and challenge by an independent panel of experts. Tomorrow's Value is available from

    SustainAbility, Inc. is a strategy consultancy and independent think-tank specializing in the business risks and market opportunities of corporate responsibility and sustainable development.

    Standard & Poor's, a division of The McGraw-Hill Companies (NYSE:MHP), is the world's foremost provider of financial market intelligence, including independent credit ratings, indices, risk evaluation, investment research and data.

    UNEP is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system.

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