Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2010: AkzoNobel and Philips not the green leaders

Revised ranking received with criticism by the members of the DJSI
Dow Jones Sustainability Index 2010: AkzoNobel and Philips not the green leaders
Publ. date 17 Nov 2010
The Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI) indicates for many years now the governance, environmental and social performance of multinationals listed on the Dow Jones. This makes the DJSI the benchmark for sustainable development at large companies. The index is a ‘best in class rating’ that creates a sense of urgency to focus on sustainability and stimulates a competitive environment.

Large companies in technology (Philips) and chemicals (AkzoNobel) were very surprised when the revised index was communicated in November 2010. In this revised version, these former leaders of their sectors had to give up their pole position in favor of respectively Panasonic and DSM. This confusion was caused by a software bug in the initial publication in September. This software bug resulted in a revised ranking with some changing of positions.

The measurement problems in the DJSI led to criticism from for instance the CEO of AkzoNobel, Hans Wijers: ‘This could not happen again. We have to make sure that we use a reliable and consistent external benchmark to measure our performance on the sustainability aspects. Sustainability is completely integrated in our corporate strategy and despite the revised ranking, AkzoNobel strives to sustain its status as a world leader on sustainability.’ This criticism is not totally unexpected because the bonuses of AkzoNobel are partly connected to the score on the index. 

Work to be done
There is criticism also from other companies on SAM, the organization behind the sustainability index. Simon Henry from Shell contributes: ‘It is not transparent what they are doing.’ There is work to be done for SAM to create more transparency. SAM is aware of the fact that these measurement problems need to be prevented in the future.

Finch & Beak and SAM collaborated to write the energy sector report ‘Who turns off the lights?’ For more information on how indexes such as the Dow Jones Sustainability Index can help your company developing a sustainability strategy, please contact Jan van der Kaaij, via jan@finchandbeak.com or +31 6 28 02 18 80.

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