"As the demand grows for corporate accountability and responsible behavior, many U.S. companies realize they must share their values - as well as their value - with their stakeholders," said Michael Radcliffe, a director with KPMG LLP Global Sustainability Services. KPMG LLP is a professional services firm.
"While that message is still working its way across corporate America, companies that embrace this approach are finding that this is just good business sense and that they are rewarded with an enhanced reputation that often leads to greater financial value for the enterprise," he added.
Sustainability, or corporate responsibility, refers to the balance among economic, environmental and social factors necessary to keep a company profitable while being responsive to society's needs.
Among the survey's major findings:
- U.S. companies that issued reports in 2002 on environmental and social issues rose 14 percent (from 28 to 32 companies), compared with a similar survey conducted three years ago.
- Among companies polled in the Global Fortune Top 250 (GFT250), four sectors registered 100 percent reporting rates: chemicals and synthetics; transportation; mining; and forestry, pulp and paper.
- Forty-five percent of the GFT250 companies issued environmental, social or sustainability reports in 2002, compared with 35 percent in the 1999 survey.
- Some 30 percent of U.S. companies in the GFT250 reported on their environmental, social and sustainability performance in 2002.
The United States led the 18 other nations polled in this survey for the number of companies (32) reporting on environmental, social or sustainability performance, but trailed in the percentage (30 percent) of companies reporting. Japan was next in the number of companies reporting with 28, an increase of 33 percent from the 21 companies reporting in 1999. Germany (12), the United Kingdom (11) and France (7) followed.
"When a company reduces its greenhouse gas emissions or works diligently to maintain a healthy and safe workplace, it can benefit in several areas: employee loyalty as well as customer satisfaction, brand value and strength of reputation," Radcliffe said. "U.S. companies are beginning to grasp this concept. The United States is closing the gap on Europe in terms of reporting these non-financial performance measures. This year's survey shows an increase in the importance that corporate executives are attaching to social, environmental and sustainability issues."