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Apple, ExxonMobil and McDonalds among sustainability ‘laggards’ in new research



Leading multinational energy firms Chevron and ExxonMobil are lagging well behind competitors when it comes to addressing sustainability issues, according to a new study, which says the oil giants should concern investors.

The report, by responsible investment research firm EIRIS, describes other household names such as Amazon, Apple, Google and McDonalds as sustainability “laggards”.

The yearly report by EIRIS, an independent organisation that analyses corporate environmental, social and governance performance, grades companies based on their long-term sustainability credentials.

It takes into account the risk profile of each sector and companies are assessed on how they manage those risks compared to competitors.

On those lagging behind, the report says, “Unless these companies improve the management of their sustainability risks they are in danger of seeing the value of their brands diminished.”

Making an example, it refers to an incident in 2012, when Apple received negative press coverage after allegations that Chinese students were forced to leave school to work in a factory assembling Apple products.

Of the 50 analysed, two brands received a worse mark than last year. Financial services firm JP Morgan and electronics company Samsung were marked down respectively for “a sharp decline in its environmental management score” and a breach of child labour laws by suppliers.

However, five companies have improved sustainability performances, with Nestle and HSBC among them. 

Peter Webster, CEO of EIRIS, said, “We are seeing an increasing number of investors who are interested in making sustainability a larger part of their investment thinking. 

“As investor expectations rise in this area there will be more investor engagement with laggards and those companies who are already well positioned may hope to benefit by attracting more long-term investors.” 

Further reading:

Apple bombs in new EIRIS sustainability ratings report

People love brands – but wouldn’t care if 73% disappear tomorrow

Global investors call for guidelines for sustainability disclosure

Seven UK firms make it onto World’s Most Ethical Companies list

Tool launched to identify and support businesses pursuing sustainability


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