NASDAQ OMX Group and CRD Analytics Announce Companies In/Out of the Sustainability Benchmark

Twice annually the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability Index is re-balanced  The Index (NASDAQ: QCRD) is an equally-weighted equity index that is a benchmark for stocks of companies that take a leadership role in sustainability performance reporting, and traded on a major US stock exchange.

Added effective May 18, 2015:  Adobe Systems, Autodesk, Campbell’s Soup Company, Consolidated Edison, DIRECTTV, FedEx, NRG Energy, Tesla Motors, and Verizon Communications.

Eliminated:  Hess Corp, ExxonMobil, Royal Dutch Shell, Statoil ASA, ENI, Rio Tinto, Vale SA, NetApp, and Petrobas.  For information about this well-established benchmark, read our Top Story this week.

Breaking News: Semi-annual Changes to the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability Index (Tuesday – May 19, 2015)
Source: CRD Analytics – The NASDAQ OMX Group, Inc. (NASDAQ:NDAQ), and CRD Analytics today announced the results of the semi-annual re-ranking of the NASDAQ OMX CRD Global Sustainability Index (NASDAQ:QCRD), which will become effective prior to market…

Sweeping Changes in Corporate Sustainability? Yes – Check Out Sustainable Brands Top 10

While the venerable late night talk show host on CBS Network – David Letterman – is moving on this week, the “Top 10 List” feature he made popular on his program flourishes in many other venues.  One that is worth your serious reading is the Sustainable Brands “News & Views” post — on the 10 critical corporate sustainability trends to watch in 2015 and beyond.

The commentary by SB’s Dimitar Viahov focused our attention on such items as Trend #3 – “Transparency Campaigns Gaining Attention but Scrutinized Ever More Closely.”  He sees brand champion corporates launching transparency-themed campaigns such as SeaWorld attempting to publicly fight back against serious charges that the company abuses its animal kingdom assets (like the Orcas, or “killer whales”).  SeaWorld has been buying the dominant ad space in daily newspaper op-ed pages for what we think are well-presented messages presenting the company’s side of the argument.  Or the McDonald’s example, holding forth on “public discussions on foods”  as a new CEO takes charge amidst rising consumer concerns about the company’s fast food menu offerings.

The key question we think about is:  Where does the recognized brand leader take the key messaging when the societal forces seem to be on the other side of the company’s unique selling proposition? 

Then there’s Trend #8 :  “Major Pivots in Favor of Shifting Product Portfolios with Sustainability-Driven Criteria in Mind.”  More about customer concerns regarding a company’s product.  In a sweeping strategic move, chemical industry leader BASF (Germany) evaluated more than 50,000 product applications in the portfolio (with a sales volume of 56 billion Euros).  That resulted in 1,000-plus plans for changing or phasing out products, based on a careful review by 1,500 experts.

Other examples are the U.S. drug chain CVS tossing out a significant revenue and profit generator –- eliminating sales of tobacco products in its drug stores.  Or the Panera Bread food retailer looking to remove artificial flavors, colors and other ingredients from the menu in its chain of stores.

The G&A Institute team sees a wide range of these types of “customer” and “society-friendly” strategies being implemented in a variety of industries, especially by brand leaders seeking to protect and extend the brand influence.  Company C-suites “get it” when they carefully appraise the realities of the transparency of their operations, product manufacturing and marketing.  In the past 10 years we’ve tracked a sweeping change in the way large companies do business and go to market in both consumer and industrial & business segments.

Author Viahov is the Sustainable Brands director of content development.  He writes for the SB blog and regularly leverages the numerics in various posts (“10 forces,” “10 firsts,” “Five reasons…”)  You can read more by him at: http://www.sustainablebrands.com/user/41230

The very credible Sustainable Brands organization will further explore the 10 trends and other trends over the coming months, beginning at its early June “Sustainable Brands ’15 San Diego” conference.  Meantime, get started with the story below -– you’ll find a few that affect your company in today’s list:

10 Critical Corporate Sustainability Trends to Watch in 2015 and Beyond
(Monday – May 11, 2015)
Source: Sustainable Brands – If the global business community is to thrive in the long term — and carry us to that flourishing future we are trying to imagine and help build — it needs to continue to scale up the ambition and influence of its efforts…

As Part of Trust Across America’s “North American Trust Awards” – the new “Hank Boerner Accountability Award” Goes to Intel

The Trust Across America (TAA) / Trust Around the World organization, headed by Barbara Kimmel, has featured a unique recognition program for the past five years.  The organization was founded in the wake of the stock market crisis of 2008-2009, to explore and advance important concepts on “trust” in the life of institutions and individuals.

“Trust”
TAA has assembled expert panels to identify and recognize the prominent voices in trust matters in 2010, and in the years since.  In 2015, of the 500 men and women recognized over the five years, 15 were on the list each year and so were named “Top Thought Leaders in Trust.”   In their honor, the 15 had special awards created and named for them.

G&A Institute is proud that our chairman, Hank Boerner, has been on the list of trust thought leaders every year since 2010 and this year had a special award named in his honor.  That means he got to nominate an outstanding public company for the “North American Trust Awards – Hank Boerner Accountability Award.”  Intel was added to “America’s Most Trustworthy Public Companies” for 2015.  His choice: Intel Corporation, a company that he believes has been a leader in corporate accountability, responsibility and sustainability for many years.

You can read more in the story linked below.  Also, check the link to the TAA organization to learn more about their great work.

Intel Corporation Named To TAA’s Most Trustworthy Companies, and Receives Special Award: Hank Boerner Accountability Award
(Monday – May 04, 2015)
Source: G&A Institute, Inc. – Intel Named to Trust Across America’s “America’s Most Trustworthy Public Companies” 2015 list — and receives first time “Hank Boerner Accountability Award,” named for the chairman of Governance & Accountability Institute.

Disclosure -– It’s All About Materiality So – What is Material in Climate Change? An interesting dialogue is going on….

It’s been a few years now since the US Securities & Exchange Commission staff reminded boards of directors of publicly-traded companies that they have an affirmative responsibility for risk oversight from both the risk and opportunity equation.

So – is Climate Change a risk?  A growing number of stakeholders say “Yes.”

And that growing number of stakeholders, including asset owners and managers, are expecting that the companies in their portfolio will be conducting a materiality assessment and then disclosing board/management discussions and decisions taken, regarding climate change risk and opportunities.  The key word is materiality. Climate change is an important issue being raised frequently by investors in the current proxy season.

The consensus has been growing among many stakeholders:  Climate change is material in the context of existing consenus on materiality.  (That is – would this information, added to the mix, cause an investor to make a buy/sell/hold decision?)

The debate is expanding:  Keith Larsen, a reporter-intern at Greenbiz, presents important perspectives in our Top Story.  We are pleased to see our long-time Fellow of the Institute, Michael Muyot, weighing in and sharing his wisdom. Notes Muyot:  “Companies will keep [not disclosing sustainability information] as long as they can get away with it.  I don’t know if they don’t think it’s not material…”

What are you views?  Read the story and decide:

Materiality Matters: Why don’t companies have to disclose sustainability risk?
(Tuesday – April 28, 2015)  Source: GreenBiz – Given that disclosure of financial risk always has been a difficult mandate for publicly-traded companies, requesting the voluntarily disclosure of sustainability risks may seem like a nearly Sisyphean task…