This year's Dow Jones Sustainability Index is out, and the news isn't good for Microsoft and HP – both companies were booted from the highly respected investors' guide to companies that demonstrate "Corporate Sustainability".
The DJSI defines corporate sustainability as "a business approach that creates long-term shareholder value by embracing opportunities and managing risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments."
For 2011, that doesn't include Microsoft or HP. In this year's listing of additions and deletions to the DJSI, Microsoft fell off the North American Index, and HP fell off the World Index. No tech-sector companies joined the worldwide top ten (as measured by market cap), although EMC, Sprint Nextel, and Xerox hopped aboard the North American top ten.
This is no fringe, tree-hugging, feel-good kumbaya we're talking about. Created by Dow Jones Indexes – best known for its benchmark Dow Jones Industrial Average – and SAM, a self-described "investment boutique focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing", the DJSI is used by 60 major asset-management firms in 16 countries to guide the investment of over $8bn in funds, according to Dow Jones.
It's also a meticulous and well-respected survey. SAM invites the world's 2,500 largest companies to participate in evaluations based on a complex set of guidelines. This year, 1,443 companies took part; 41 were added to the Index and 23 were dumped from a list that now totals 342 companies.
As ZDNet points out, this demotion can't come as much of a surprise to HP, seeing as how its most recent sustainability report was a mixed bag. Microsoft's recent sustainability efforts have been – as has been true with much of Redmond's efforts in recent years – somewhat muddled.
The world leader in tech-sector corporate sustainablity, according to the DJSI, is Samsung, congratulated by SAM and Dow Jones for its "policy to put sustainability at the heart of all its operations," including "initiatives such as eco-products development, reduction in greenhouse gas emissions, water quality control and waste management."
In a world in which it often seems as if the only measurements that count are dollars, pounds, yen, yuan, and euros, it refreshing to see those and other monetary units being used as agents of progressive environmental and social pressure. ®
Among non-technology winners and losers in the 2011 DJSI, it may be of interest to note that Coca-Cola also fell off the list, while the top sustainable company in the Food & Beverage "Supersector" was none other than its archenemy PepsiCo, cited for its commitment "to increase the amount of whole grains, fruits, vegetables, nuts, seeds and low-fat dairy in its global portfolio"; and its decision "to eliminate direct sales of full-sugar soft drinks to primary and secondary schools by 2012".