Top Stories

September 10, 2015

Rankings & Standards

Results announced for 2015 Dow Jones Sustainability Indices review

S&P Dow Jones Indices, one of the world’s leading providers of financial market indices, and RobecoSAM, the investment specialist focused exclusively on Sustainability Investing, today announced the results of the annual Dow Jones Sustainability Indices (“DJSI”) review. Launched in 1999, the DJSI is the first global index to track the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide based on RobecoSAM’s analysis of financially material Environmental, Social, and Governance factors. The world’s largest 3,400 companies from developed and emerging markets were invited to take part in this year’s assessment. The 2015 industry group leaders consist of a range of global companies. Consumer goods giant Unilever held the top spot in food and beverages, while Abbott, the globally diversified healthcare company, is again the only North American company to be recognised as an industry group leader. (RobecoSAM)

Responsible Investment

Sports Direct denies ‘Dickensian practices’ in face of investor revolt

Sports Direct has insisted it is “not operating Dickensian practices”, in the face of growing shareholder unrest at the UK sportswear retailer. The company, which has gained notoriety for keeping 20,000 staff on zero-hours contracts, robustly defended its treatment of workers at its annual shareholder meeting after strong criticism from activist investor groups. A representative from the pressure group ShareAction claimed that up to 4,000 casual staff employed at Sports Direct’s warehouse faced a “six strikes and you’re sacked” policy. This includes strikes for sickness, excessive talking and toilet breaks, he alleged, while also claiming staff have to wait between 25 and 45 minutes unpaid to be searched at their end of their shifts. City institutions are also unhappy about the company lowering the performance targets in its bonus scheme, failing to hire a new finance director for 18 months and buying stakes in rival retailers such as Tesco and Debenhams. (Guardian)


Justice Department sets sight on individual executives, not whole corporations

The US Justice Department issued new policies on Wednesday that prioritise the prosecution of individual employees – not just their companies – and put pressure on corporations to turn over evidence against their executives. The memo is a tacit acknowledgment of criticism that despite securing record fines from major corporations, the Justice Department under President Obama has punished few executives involved in the housing crisis, the financial meltdown and corporate scandals. “Corporations can only commit crimes through flesh-and-blood people,” Sally Q. Yates, the deputy attorney general and the author of the memo, said in an interview on Wednesday. “The public needs to have confidence that there is one system of justice and it applies equally regardless of whether that crime occurs on a street corner or in a boardroom.” (New York Times)


Leading campaigner urges environmentalists to think again on fracking

Environmentalists should keep cool heads over fracking, says Friends of the Earth’s former climate campaigner. Bryony Worthington – now Labour shadow energy minister – says fracking will create less CO2 than compressing gas in Qatar and shipping it to Britain. But she insists shale gas should only be developed if its emissions are captured and stored underground. Baroness Worthington is a professional climate and energy analyst, and one of the architects of the UK’s radical Climate Change Act. “We have to be realistic,” she told BBC News. “We are going to be using gas for a long time because of the huge role it plays for heating homes and for industry.” Her former colleague, Friends of the Earth’s director Craig Bennett, replied: “Fracking won’t help us tackle climate change. Even people in the industry agree that shale gas wouldn’t make any big difference to our energy sector until the mid-to-late 2020s. Building a whole new gas infrastructure will keep us addicted to expensive fossil fuels for decades to come.” (BBC News)


Image source: illustration from Oliver Twist by James Mahoney (public domain)