Corporate Sustainability (CS) is a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. Corporate sustainability leaders achieve long-term shareholder value by gearing their strategies and management to harness the market's potential for sustainability products and services while at the same time successfully reducing and avoiding sustainability costs and risks.
The quality of a company's strategy and management and its performance in dealing with opportunities and risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments can be quantified and used to identify and select leading companies for investment purposes.
Leading sustainability companies display high levels of competence in addressing global and industry challenges in a variety of areas:
Strategy: Integrating long-term economic, environmental and social aspects in their business strategies while maintaining global competitiveness and brand reputation.
Financial: Meeting shareholders' demands for sound financial returns, long-term economic growth, open communication and transparent financial accounting.
Customer & Product: Fostering loyalty by investing in customer relationship management and product and service innovation that focuses on technologies and systems, which use financial, natural and social resources in an efficient, effective and economic manner over the long-term.
Governance and Stakeholder: Setting the highest standards of corporate governance and stakeholder engagement, including corporate codes of conduct and public reporting.
Human: Managing human resources to maintain workforce capabilities and employee satisfaction through best-in-class organisational learning and knowledge management practices and remuneration and benefit programs.
Corporate sustainability performance is an investable concept. This is crucial in driving interest and investments in sustainability to the mutual benefit of companies and investors. As this benefit circle strengthens, it will have a positive effect on the societies and economies of both the developed and developing world.
Investors are diversifying their portfolios by investing in companies that set industry-wide best practices with regard to sustainability.
Two factors drive this development:
First, the concept of corporate sustainability is attractive to investors because it aims to increase long-term shareholder value. Since corporate sustainability performance can now be financially quantified, they now have an investable corporate sustainability concept.
Second, sustainability leaders are increasingly expected to show superior performance and favorable risk/return profiles. A growing number of investors is convinced that sustainability is a catalyst for enlightened and disciplined management, and, thus, a crucial success factor.
What private and institutional investors need is a global, rational, consistent, flexible and, most importantly, investable index to benchmark the performance of their sustainability investments. They also need an independent reliable index as a basis for derivatives and funds focused on sustainability companies.
In response, CEC launched the ‘Sustainability Indexes’ (SI) working group to combine and share expertise and resources of the vast experience of our partners. The CEC therefore provides a bridge between companies implementing sustainability principles and investors wishing to profit from their superior performance and favorable risk/return profiles.
For investors, the integrity of the corporate sustainability assessment and the index calculation ensures that the SIs are independent, reliable and investable sustainability indexes.
For companies, the SI provides a financial quantification of their sustainability strategy and their management of sustainability opportunities, risks and costs. Because "What gets measured, gets done", they will be motivated to increase long-term shareholder value by integrating economic, environmental and social factors in their business strategies.
The SI will provide investors and companies with insight into the trends and events driving global supply and demand of sustainable products and services. This will bring a greater appreciation of the benefits of integrating sustainability principles in both corporate and investment strategies.