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|Covalence EthicalQuote tracks media coverage on 2,800 of the world's largest companies with respect to green issues, including environmental, social and governance (ESG) factors as well as CSR, ethics and sustainability.
Based in Geneva, Switzerland, Covalence EthicalQuote aggregates thousands of articles gathered online. Then, using an international team of analysts, it classifies the coverage according to 50 criteria based on the Global Reporting Initiative. These include water management, pollution, biodiversity, product safety, emissions and waste management.
In addition to tracking news coverage by company, Ethical Quote’s industry-specific assessments use MSCIs Global Industry Classification Standard's list which includes energy, banks, automobiles and components, technology hardware and equipment, and 20 other leading industry groups.
According to EthicalQuote, the most quoted companies with respect of green issues during 2013 were:
3. Tokyo Electric Power Company
4. Wal-Mart Stores
8. JPMorgan Chase
9. Ford Motor
10. Bank of America
12. Royal Dutch Shell
16. Toyota Motor
18. Samsung Electronics
19. Wells Fargo
20. Barclays Bank
"This information should help make business leaders understand that reputation is especially important when it comes to ethics and sustainability," said Antoine Mach, Covalence EthicalQuote's managing partner and co-founder. "As real sustainability performance is very difficult to measure in a standard, objective way, reputation is a proxy of such performance. Also, reputation is a vector of the return on investment of sustainability programs: Doing green things is good in itself, but if the company's stakeholders aren't aware of such good things, they won't reward the company, which itself won't be motivated to do more."
Here are some of EthicalQuote's key findings - and what you can learn from the results:
1. The leader, Google, for example, had a banner year in sustainability. In 2013, it launched ambitious solar initiatives, jumped on the sustainability crowdsourcing bandwagon and joined forces with the likes of Al Gore to explore the greening of the Internet. Facebook also made headlines for several data center-related initiatives, and Microsoft made significant strides in the areas of carbon pricing and offsets as well as energy-efficient buildings. (That said, not all coverage related to these companies was favorable. Both Facebook and Google, for instance, came under fire for problematic relationships with climate change deniers.)
2. On the flipside, a handful of companies on the list garnered headlines with a more critical edge. Chevron, for example, made the news when shareholders pressured it to be more transparent about climate risks. Others received more divided coverage, such as Bank of America, commended for a UK effort to cut down on waste, but also criticized for supporting coal.
3. Perhaps the most interesting entry on the list is Wal-Mart. It has not traditionally been thought of as a green leader, but it made notable and bold advances this year, ranging from introducing safer chemicals in products to leading the carbon pricing efforts - proving that it's never too late to shift focus and public image.