18 November 2004 | Cara Whitehouse
Companies still show a "fundamental weakness" in their ability to identify and manage key social and environmental issues, according to a recent survey on corporate sustainability.
Consultancy SustainAbility, with the United Nations Environment Programme and financial information company Standard & Poor's, assessed 100 reports for Risk & Opportunity: Best Practice in Non-Financial Reporting. Judy Kuszewski, co-author of the report, told SM: "Companies are not drawing the links properly between business decisions and sustainability."
The survey also concluded that company reports are not effectively discussing or disclosing emerging risks or opportunities.
As a result, "little help is given to investors in terms of understanding the meaning of social and environmental performance in a financial context".
The authors slammed a report from car maker DaimlerChrysler for its approach to climate change, devoting "more space to photographs of handshakes than discussions on climate change". This is despite the issue representing a key area of risk and opportunity for the business.
In contrast, reports from BP, Unilever and brewer SABMiller were highlighted for tackling the impact of their products on climate change, health and nutrition and alcohol abuse.