Woolies a world sustainability leader

16 September 2013

South African company Woolworths has been recognised as a world leader in corporate sustainability for the third year running in the latest review of the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices.

Launched in 1999, the Dow Jones Sustainability Indices were the first global indices to track the financial performance of the leading sustainability-driven companies worldwide.

Woolworths is one of five South African companies – the others are Exxaro, Gold Fields, Nedbank and Sasol – listed on the indices.

The latest indices also recognize Woolworths as a sustainability leader in food and staples retailing, along with 23 other “industry group leaders” for 2013-14.

Announcing the latest review in New York and Zurich last week, David Blitzer, chairman of the S&P Dow Jones Index Committee, said the market upheavals and high debt levels of the last few years “should remind investors that a long-term view of the world and the markets is essential.

“The Dow Jones Sustainability Indices combine that kind of long-run focus on sustainability with index investing to empower investors.”

Based on the cooperation of Dow Jones Indexes and sustainability investment specialist RobecoSAM, the indices provides asset managers with reliable and objective benchmarks to manage sustainability portfolios.

The indices follow a best-in-class approach, including companies across all industries that outperform their peers in numerous sustainability metrics, with RobecoSAM inviting over 3 000 publicly traded companies, including 800 companies in emerging markets, to report annually on their sustainability practices.

RobecoSAM head of indices Guido Giese said the number of companies from emerging markets that participated in its 2013-14 corporate sustainability assessment had increased by 31% over last year.

Woolworths, which formalised its commitment to sustainability with the 2007 launch of its “good business journey”, has received a number of accolades for its achievements over the years.

In 2011, the World Economic Forum named the company as one of the 16 “new sustainability champions” in the developing world. At the 2012 World Retail Congress, Woolworths and UK firm Marks & Spencer were named joint winners of the Responsible Retailer of the Year award.

Also in 2012, Woolworths was ranked first among the top 20 companies listed on the JSE by the Reputation Institute, an international organisation that tracks the reputation of the world’s top companies. In the 2013 survey,

SAinfo reporter