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Balance Sheet: Here Are the Companies With the Fairest Sustainability Communications

Balance Sheet: Here Are the Companies With the Fairest Sustainability Communications

A new analysis of 600,000 communications from the 200 largest companies in the US and UK suggests that there is a significant gap between what many companies do on sustainability and what they communicate. According to the analysis, conducted by Connected Impact and Ringer Sciences, it is not just companies that are overstating their sustainability work in their sustainability communications. It is also common for companies to tone down their sustainability communications for fear of being accused of greenwashing.

The analysis suggests that the gap between companies’ sustainability actions and their sustainability communication needs to be narrowed, regardless of whether it is overstated or understated. It is also evident here that companies with smaller gaps between performance and communication are those with the highest levels of trust in sustainability. The report’s authors write that transparency is critical to building trust between companies and stakeholders, and that companies that are open about their ESG work build stronger relationships with investors, consumers and employees.

Greenwashing describes when companies choose not to publish details of their climate goals or plans to avoid scrutiny and accusations of greenwashing. Analysis shows that many of the companies audited fear that their sustainability efforts will be seen as insufficient or misleading, leading them to avoid reporting these efforts at all.

The report also includes an index that shows companies’ balance between sustainability performance and sustainability communication. Here, a number of companies are highlighted that the report’s authors believe have a good balance between sustainability communication and actual sustainability performance. The best companies in the environmental field are Amazon and Lloyds Banking Group. In the social field, Nike and Kingfisher are mentioned, and in the governance field, Walt Disney and Schroders are mentioned.

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