While there are pockets of sustainability leadership in the U.S. business community, too many companies are only taking incremental steps to address pressing issues in the field that could impact their bottom lines and the future of the environment and economy, a report released Wednesday by Ceres and Sustainalytics found.
The report, which assesses the sustainability performance of 613 of the largest publicly traded companies in the U.S., tracks corporate performance against 20 key metrics, including governance, disclosure, greenhouse gas emissions and labor standards, and identifies sustainability trends across key sectors.
“Given the acceleration of environmental and social challenges globally — floods, droughts and workplace tragedies — most U.S. corporations are not keeping pace with the level of change,” said Mindy Lubber, president of sustainability advocacy group Ceres. “Those that step up to the challenge will be best positioned to thrive in the rapidly changing, resource-constrained 21st century economy.”
The report, “Gaining Ground: Corporate Progress on the Ceres Roadmap for Sustainability,” said more than two-thirds of the companies evaluated have activities in place aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions, but only 35 percent have established time-bound targets for doing so. The U.S. Supreme Court on Tuesday upheld the authority of the Environmental Protection Agency to regulate emissions from coal plants that drifts from 28 Midwestern and Appalachian states to the East Coast.
The report said a growing number of companies are incorporating sustainability performance into executive compensation packages — 24 percent of firms link executive compensation to sustainability performance, up from 15 percent in 2012. The retail and health-care sectors stood out for their minimal commitment to sustainability-management accountability. Of the 35 companies in the retail sector, 83 percent were graded in Tiers 3 and 4, with one notable exception being Wal-Mart Stores Inc., which was the only company in the retail sector graded Tier 1 for this expectation.
More companies are also setting clear sustainability standards for suppliers, with 58 percent having supplier codes of conduct that address human rights compared with 43 percent in 2012. Only 31 percent of companies have formal human rights policies or statements for their employees and just 26 percent have policies or statements that cover an employee’s right to freedom of association and collective bargaining. Among 35 retailers, only Best Buy, Costco, CVS, Nordstrom and Sysco have human rights policies, and only CVS recognizes its workers’ right to freedom of association.
PVH Corp. was spotlighted for its supplier code of conduct that’s based on the International Labor Organization’s Core Conventions and the United Nation’s Framework on Business and Human Rights. The report noted that PVH, in response to the Rana Plaza building collapse in Bangladesh, was the first U.S. company to sign the Accord on Fire & Building Safety.
Additional innovation is needed to drive sustainable products and services, the report surmised. Of the 419 companies evaluated for this expectation, 14 percent have formal programs to invest in and promote sustainability products and services compared to 10 percent in 2012. Nike Inc. was cited for integrating sustainable design across its product portfolio, including innovations such as the FlyKnit running shoe that creates two-thirds less waste in production than its counterparts.
In the area of renewable energy, 37 percent of companies have implemented a program, while only six percent have quantitative targets to increase renewable-energy usage. The retail sector also received poor grades in this area. Only 20 percent of companies fell into Tiers 1 and 2, although Target Corp. and Staples Inc. were among the top performers for this expectation. Target, for example, is aiming to have 75 percent of its U.S. buildings Energy Star certified by 2016. Gap Inc. and Nike were also cited for their water-efficiency programs.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)