Climate Counts 2011 Scorecard

Here’s an interesting, innovative, relative newcomer to our SRI list.  It is brought to you by Climate Counts, an independent, non-profit organization which aims to raise public awareness of ethical consumption.  Climate Counts produces a “score card” or list of companies’ impact on climate/sustainability.

Companies are rated on their practices to reduce global warming.  Scoring is from 0 to 100 (best).  The list is located at the bottom of this article with comments from us.  Climate uses 22 criteria to evaluate companies, which are broken-down into four categories. Please refer to its website for additional information.

Overall, trends have been good, with companies getting higher scores, on average since 2007’s first scorecard.  Generally, larger companies (revenue-wise) attain better scorecards/ratings (see chart below). Only one large company (Amazon.com) has had consistently low rankings.  We are disappointed that the company, which is so innovative and a good place to work, has not been forward leaning in terms of the environment.  We have verified this with other sources, including CSRhub.

source: Climate Counts

What industries performed best?
The Electronics industry performed best compared to the 16 broad sectors evaluated.  Siemens scored best, while sadly, Apple scored worst.  Steve Jobs, as many of you know, is best known for inspiring his workers and make products that people love, but he was never known as being particularly charitable or being into the environment.  Let’s hope new leadership moves the company forward.

What we like:
  • Climate Counts is quite innovative in its presentation and approach and is very adept at visual presentation of results.
  • The organization attempts to equalize the differences in industries given the very nature of some industries being large energy users/emissions emitters.  Thus, it attempts to adjust the jet-fuel using airline industry with others. (We are not sure how it does this or if he actually succeeds in creating a “level playing field.”)
  • Climate released an iphone app (link) allowing consumers to check-up on companies before making an ill-advised decision.
  • Climate Counts is very attuned to the recent trend of “Greenwashing” where companies make themselves look good in public, while doing something quite different “behind the scenes.”

What we don’t like:
  • Two board members of Climate Counts are from Stonyfield Farms (the guys that make yogurt).  Stonyfield ranks high on Climate Counts’ scorecard, so there may be a conflict-of-interest issue
  • In 2010, Climate Counts established a fee-based program to aid companies in achieving their climate goals.  Again, this may be seen as a conflict of interest.
  • The list is mostly large, well known consumer companies.  Other companies are not well represented.  As of 2011, Climate examined 150 (global) companies within 16 major consumer sectors.
  • The scorecard focuses on the “E/environmental” in ESG.  So, SRI investors are only seeing one side of the coin with Climate Counts’ list.

Sector leaders:                                               Our Comments on right                  

Airlines:                     Delta (56)

Apparel/Accessories: Nike (85)                      Co. gets high rankings on most lists

Beverages – Beer:      Molson Coors (69)

Commercial Banks:   Bank of America (82)  Will the Occupy movement agree?

Consumer Shipping:  UPS (80)

Electronics:                Hewlett-Packard (83)   Co. gets high rankings on most lists

Food Products:          Unilever (88)

Food Services:           Starbucks (70)              A true leader in so many aspects

Home/Furnishings:    Herman Miller, and Masco (63)

Hotels:                       Marriott (73)

Household Prod:        L’Oreal (78)                Several European cos represented

Large Appliances:     AB Electrolux (80)     “”

Internet/Software:     Microsoft (68)

Media:                       General Electric (77)  Expect to move to another industry

Pharmaceuticals:       AstraZeneca (86)

Toys:                         Hasbro (52)                 Mattel typically makes most SRI lists

Best Employers for workers over 50

As most readers may (or should know) in America the standard agreement between employers and employees is that we’re hired at will.   The legal phrasing is below:

Any hiring is presumed to be “at will”; that is, the employer is free to discharge individuals “for good cause, or bad cause, or no cause at all,” and the employee is equally free to quit, strike, or otherwise cease work.[wiki footnote]

The “at-will” rule has its genesis in a rule in Horace Gray Wood’s 1877 treatise on master-servant relations. Wood cited four U.S. cases as authority for his rule that when a hiring was indefinite, the burden of proof was on the servant to prove that an indefinite employment term was for one year.  Please see wikipedia.org for additional information.

Well, if you’ve ever felt like you were a servant (or slave) to your company, the above surely will make you feel worse.  On the positive side, such employment law does allow companies to treat employees as variable rather than fixed costs.  So, they can easily restructure (lay off) operations when times are tough.

With the above in mind, older employees should try to work at companies more conducive to ethical work practices.  The list below of Best Employers for Workers over 50 is sourced from AARP.org, September 2011.

So, why are we highlighting this list in a Socially Responsible website.  Well, it stands to reason that companies who treat employees well also treat other stakeholders well.  These “emotionally intelligent companies” often are more open minded – seeking outside opinions before making drastic decisions.


AARP’s Methodology:
Prospective employers essentially submit a detailed application to AARP that include questions for screening companies.  AARP considers HR policies/practices such as worker training, recruiting, and health & pension benefits.  Applications are evaluated by an independent survey firm, and later to a panel of judges.  We were pleasantly surprised that AARP disclosed background information on the judges link.


Disadvantages:
AARP’s methodology is similar to National Association of Female Executive’s (NAFE).  As such, we note some negatives:

  • Prospective employers are pushed to AARP via a self initiated application process, and not pulled in by an active approach
  • Prospects (and thereby chosen companies) are in similar industry fields (i.e, healthcare)
  • Prospects’ human resources policies/practices are not required to be dedicated solely towards older employees.  Note that this is not the case in terms of working mothers policies/practices, which have become more developed over the years.

Interesting Findings about the list:

  • Despite the great strides made by socially responsible stalwarts, the truth is, socially responsible companies were overwhelmingly privately-owned on this list.  Blue Chip public companies were nearly non-existent.
  • Most were healthcare companies.  Privately-owned healthcare companies were the highest proportion we have ever seen.  Well, leave it to a healthcare company to recognize how important this benefit is to older employees.  
  • However, reviewing previous lists going back to 2002 reveals that the trend of private and/or healthcare cos has grown steadily.  Just when the first “baby boomers” are reaching 65, it appears that conventional publicly-owned companies such as Deere & Co. are no longer appearing on the list.
  • Universities also were well represented in the list 

    AARP also created a “short-list” for older workers, the International version, which did include some well known corporations such as BMW, Centrica, Daikin, DSW21, Marks & Spencer and National Australia Bank.



    Best Employers for Workers Over 50
    2011 Winners (U.S. list).

      1. Scripps Health

      2. Cornell University

      3. National Institutes of Health
      4. First Horizon National Corporation

      5. West Virginia University
      6. The YMCA of Greater Rochester

      7. Atlantic Health System
      8. Mercy Health System
      9. Bon Secours Richmond Health System
    10. The Aerospace Corporation
    11. WellStar Health System
    12. MidMichigan Health
    13. City of Glendale, Arizona
    14. Massachusetts General Hospital
    15. Pinnacol Assurance
    16. Stanley Consultants

    17. Central Florida Health Alliance

    18. National Rural Electric Cooperative Association

    19. The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
    20. Brevard Public Schools

    21. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    22. Pinnacle Health
    23. TriHealth, Inc.
    24. Cianbro Corporation
    25. Securian Financial Group, Inc.

    26. Lee County Electric Cooperative
    27. Manheim

    28. Monongalia General Hospital
    29. George Mason University
    30. Nevada Federal Credit Union

    31. Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina

    32. Michelin North America

    33. Saint Vincent Health System
    34. University of Massachusetts Medical School
    35. University of Southern California
    36. Cabell Huntington Hospital
    37. Virginia Commonwealth University

    38. Ochsner Health System
    39. FCCI Insurance Group
    40. Saint Barnabas Health Care System
    41. ACUITY, a Mutual Insurance Company

    42. S&T Bank

    43. University of Pittsburgh

    44. West Virginia University Hospitals
    45. Eastern National
    46. Avera McKennan Hospital & University Health Center
    47. DentaQuest
    48. Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield of New Jersey
    49. San Antonio Lighthouse for the Blind

    50. Kaiser Permanente

    Least transparent companies 2011

    Corporate Responsibility Magazine link wrote an interesting article called THE BLACK LIST.  This list is the second annual register of the least transparent companies in the United States.  (The list in its entirety is located at the bottom of this article.)

    As Brandeis put it, “sunshine is said to be the best of disinfectants.”  And public companies  are expected to be open and transparent, as per their very nature (public filings, earnings reports, etc).

    Definition:
    The “Black List” is defined as “the members of the Russell 1000 who have the last voluntary public disclosure of the voluntary data elements.”  In layman’s terms, this means that any company that appears on the list could be off if they just disclosed one data element.

    Methodology:
    The method used to determine the Black List is similar to the method used for its popular Best Citizens list.  Data are collected in seven categories including Climate Change, Employee relations, Environment, Financial, Governance, Human rights and philanthropy.  Employee relations, and the Environment are the two elements with the highest weighting (nearly 20% each).  Governance was the lowest (7% weighting).

    Given the vast amount of data that must be delved into, IW Financial (the company behind the list) shares the results with the companies before the data is published.  This gives them the opportunity to point out mistakes, misunderstandings, etc.

    Biggest Surprise: 

    Dreamworks Animation:
    This company, while not being a role model for Corporate Social Responsibility should not be on the Black List.  It is true that Dreamworks doesn’t have a Corporate Social Annual Report and doesn’t disclose its efforts to reduce its environmental footprint (this author personally checked filings).  Dreamworks doesn’t worry about Climate Change except on how it could negatively affect its costs of business and audience levels.  They also disclose no opinions of efforts to make the world a better place.  They are apolitical, though their animated movies are another story.  Further, Dreamworks doesn’t disclose any large philanthropy or community programs.

    However, the Black List is supposed to give a run-down on companies that disclose nothing.  Dreamworks is far from that.  In fact, its website does a good job in Corporate Governance (see below).  The company, for example, has a contact link allowing anyone to contact the Board of Directors.  It also distinguishes which board members are on the Audit, and Compensation committees.

    Source: Dreamworks Animation SKG

    A large part (about 20% of the score) of the Black List, consists of checking whether a company has good employee relations.  IW Financial, which was responsible for the Black List research said that it checked several public sources (not just company websites, annual reports).

    However, one need look far when checking Employee Relations as Dreamworks Animation has been on the Fortune 100 Best Companies to Work For link years, including its most recent survey.  In fact, Dreamworks Animation was in the Top 10 two years in a row!

    Fortune’s site not only gives a short description of why people like working there, but also stats on pay (which is high) health programs (they have a gym) work life balance, Diversity (nearly 1/3rd are women) and employee training.

    Fortune Magazine 2011
    Though, independent companies that rate corporate ESG efforts do give Dreamworks Animation mixed blessings.  The company is rated average by CSR Hub (see table) and “Below Average” by Audit Integrity (for aggressive accounting and weak governance).  However, Dreamworks is rated “Green” by Risk Metrics for effective ESG management.
    Source: CSR Hub: ratings
    The 2011 Black List
    American Financial Group Inc. AFG
    Assured Guaranty Ltd. AGO
    Aspen Insurance Holdings AHL
    Ares Capital Corp. ARCC
    Axis Capital Holdings Ltd. AXS
    Bio-Rad Laboratories Inc. BIO
    Brown & Brown, Inc. BRO
    Bancorpsouth Inc. BXS
    CareFusion Corp. CFN
    Chimera Investment Corp. CIM
    Core Laboratories N.V. CLB
    Cooper Companies, Inc. COO
    Dreamworks Animation Inc. DWA
    Endurance Speciality Holdings ENH
    Eaton Vance Corp. EV
    Frontline Ltd. FRO
    Forest Oil Corp. FST
    Frontier Oil Corp. FTO
    GenOn Energy, Inc. GEN
    Hansen Natural Corp. HANS
    HCC Insurance Holdings, Inc. HCC
    Health Care Reit, Inc. HCN
    HCP Inc. HCP
    Hospitality Properties Trust HPT
    InterContinental Exchange Inc. ICE
    Lazard Ltd. LAZ
    Liberty Media Holding Corporation Capital LCAPA
    Liberty Media Holding Corporation Interactive LINTA
    Liberty Starz Group LSTZA
    Lincare Holdings Inc. LNCR
    Leucadia National Corp. LUK
    Markel Corp. MKL
    Madison Square Garden Inc. MSG
    Nasdaq Omx Group Inc. NDAQ
    National Fuel Gas Co. NFG
    NII Holdings Inc. NIHD
    Annaly Capital Management Inc. NLY
    Realty Income Corp. O
    Omnicare Inc. OCR
    Partnerre Ltd. PRE
    Patterson-UTI Energy Inc. PTEN
    Everest Re Group Ltd. RE
    Regal Entertainment Group RGC
    RenaissanceRe Holdings Ltd. RNR
    SL Green Realty Corp. SLG
    Solera Holdings Inc. SLH
    SXC Health Solutions Corp. SXCI
    Techne Corporation TECH
    TFS Financial Corporation TFSL
    Titanium Metals Corp. TIE
    Torchmark Corp. TMK
    Trinity Industries, Inc. TRN
    Unitrin, Inc. UTR
    Ventas, Inc. VTR
    W.R. Berkley Corp. WRB
    Wesco Financial Corp. WSC
    Alleghany Corp. Y
    Zions Bancorporation ZION

    Green Brand Survey

    Here’s an interesting survey from Landor Associates.  Landor is a consulting company with particular expertise in Branding, especially consumer attitudes about the environment.  The company’s come a long way in a few short years.  Since 2006, it’s expanded its survey from 500 U.S. respondents to 9,000 across eight countries.

    June’11’s survey is interesting for these reasons:
    • It’s based on a transversal study comparing several countries, so different consumer attitudes and cultures can be assessed.
    • it demonstrates key differences amongst consumers in developing versus developed countries
    • these differences are not what one might expect (read on!)
    What Landor’s survey is not….
    • It is not a survey of company’s rankings on Corporate Social Responsibility (“CSR”) efforts.  However…
    •  

    Attributes of the 2011 U.S. Rankings:

    • Nearly all of the companies on this list are in fact on several SRI lists
    • Private companies are included
    • Small companies are also listed
    • Four are “born green” establishments (i.e, Seventh Generation)
    Source:  Landor Associates, 2011

     Biggest Surprises:
    • Consumers, especially in Australia and in the States, believe that the Energy industry does the best job of protecting the environment.
    • Hmm, strange.  Remember, this is not a survey of corporate CSR.  What I can tell you is that the large Energy multinationals are great at advertising their green efforts.   Could this be propaganda?  maybe…
    • In other countries, including Germany, India and China, the Technology sector was cited as being the biggest protector of the environment.
    • In Developed (aka Rich) countries, the greatest hurdle to purchasing green was price.  Hmm…perhaps this is related to the weak European and U.S. economies…
     Biggest “no kidding” finding:
    • Brands that people can “touch & feel” are the ones that were most represented in Landor’s Top 10 list.
    • This makes sense because such products are seen everyday by consumers shopping for personal care items, groceries, household cleaners, etc.

    Does the Economy affect the Green Consumer?

    • Yes, a weak economy, or even perception thereof, does affect consumer behavior.
    • Sadly, the U.S. consumer is hurting and is now considering Value of vital importance purchase decisions.
    • Note that until recently (2012) consumer confidence numbers were outright terrible.  The Financial Crises is long over, however, consumer confidence is coming-off its lowest point since the recession and low-point of the U.S. stock market (March 2009).
      • In fact, an evolution of U.S. data shows that while consumers are willing to spend more on green products, fewer respondents have felt this way versus previous years’ surveys.