Image credit: Borja Bonaque for Barron's
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Many have come forward to rank companies according to their sustainability performance. It is certainly not an exact science and I strongly encourage you to check out the methodology section.
Even with their limitations, these lists are helpful as snapshots of both current performance and our current understanding of how to measure the environmental and social impact of business. Both are currently insufficient but improving.
"Barron’s offers our first ranking of the most sustainable companies in the U.S. We have always aimed to provide information about what keenly interests investors—and what affects investment risk and performance."
"To create our ranking, we turned to a sustainable-investing stalwart: Calvert Research and Management, an arm of Eaton Vance(EV). Calvert ran one of the first U.S. socially responsible mutual funds and has been applying ESG factors to company research for decades."
"Calvert began by taking the 1,000 largest publicly held companies by market value, with headquarters in the U.S., as of Dec. 31. It excluded real estate investment trusts and master limited partnerships because their sustainability data remain uneven. Then, Calvert looked at 300 performance indicators for each company from data providers including Institutional Shareholder Services, Sustainalytics, and Thomson Reuters Asset4 in five categories: shareholders, employees, customers, planet, and community."
"The group had a remarkable share-price performance as a whole for 2017—returning 29%, compared with 22% for the Standard & Poor’s 500 index."