|August 30, 2009|
The Road Not Yet Taken
|In August 2009, the Sustainable Enterprise Institute released its first major published work, addressing U.S. corporate environmental policy, management, and disclosure practices. |
This report, entitled "The Road Not Yet Taken: The State of U.S. Corporate Environmental Policy and Management," presents a detailed review of the publicly disclosed environmental policies, management structures, systems, measurement and reporting activities, and disclosures of the 1,000 largest publicly traded U.S. corporations.
The study finds that while more than half of these companies have an environmental policy of some form, most are lacking a number of key elements. In addition, evidence of the systems, practices, and other infrastructure needed to implement and uphold a comprehensive environmental policy is notably absent in most of these firms.
These shortfalls present a significant challenge to investors and other company stakeholders who seek to understand the sophistication and effectiveness of corporate environmental management activities, and the attendant effects that these elements (or lack thereof) have on company business risk and that value future assets, liabilities, revenues, earnings, and cash flows.
The authors suggest a number of improvements, including more and more rigorous environmental (or sustainability) policies, greater use of formal management systems, more clear explication of company environmental (and business/financial goals), and far more extensive, consistent, and regular disclosure.