Sasol on Dow sustainability index

A Sasol Oil plant. The petrochemicals giant
has pioneered the technology to produce oil,
petrol and other chemicals from coal.
(Image: Sasol, MediaClubSouthAfrica.com.
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Janine Erasmus

Local petroleum giant Sasol has made its debut on the Dow Jones sustainability world index, one of 33 such companies that are recognised as new global corporate sustainability leaders. The 2008 list was announced in September and in spite of 25 deletions, the number of companies listed grew from 312 to 320.

The Dow Jones sustainability world index was launched in 1999, and reveals the top 10% of the largest 2 500 companies around the world in terms of their corporate sustainability practices and philosophies. By hailing those companies that embrace the principles of corporate sustainability, thereby taking a step closer to long-term business success, the index aims to encourage others around the world to do the same.

According to Global 100, social, environmental and governance factors are becoming increasingly relevant to financial performance. The organisation also says that companies which show superior management of these issues have an edge over their competitors, and are likely to out-perform them in the long term.

Global 100 is a list of the 100 most sustainable corporations in the world, and is announced each year at the annual World Economic Forum meeting in Davos, Switzerland.

A great achievement

Sasol CEO Pat Davies said that first-time inclusion on the renowned index is a great achievement for Sasol. “Our previous best was to get to the top 15% in the Oil and Gas sector last year. Our renewed focus on people, exceptional performance, long-term sustainable growth and safety has been rewarded. We are motivated by the positive impact that this inclusive approach to business can have on all our stakeholders,” he added.

Inclusion on the sustainability index is the goal of leading international corporations, said Sasol in a statement announcing its latest achievement. It benefits a company in a number of ways – not the least of which is the public acknowledgement of its status as an industry leader in the key areas of economic, environmental and social practices, and the recognition of important stakeholders such as legislators, customers and employees.

Companies around the globe use the indexes as their reference point for sustainability performance. In addition, the index is watched closely by market players around the world. According to Dow Jones, asset managers in 16 countries use the indexes, under licence, to manage a range of sustainability-geared portfolios with a total value of almost $6-billion.

Sasol’s sustainability philosophy is based on accommodating the needs of today’s generation without in any way affecting the ability of future generations to meet their needs. According to Davies, the company intends to be part of the solution, not the problem, in environmental matters, and was constantly looking for ways to reduce its impact on the environment. In terms of carbon emissions, Davies said, “The best way to deal with carbon is not to produce it in the first place.”

The company is ever mindful of economic, social and environmental issues that affect its stakeholders, and conducts all its operations with a balanced mix of financial, environmental and social responsibility. Sasol is currently expanding its operations in Europe, the US and the Asia-Pacific area.

Sustainable corporations

The Dow Jones sustainability indexes track the financial performance of corporations that make sustainability a key facet of their business ethic. There are three indexes – for North America, Europe, and the world.

Criteria for inclusion cover a range of economic, environmental and social issues such as corporate governance, knowledge management, environmental performance and human rights policies.

Data in the indexes is compiled from a number of information sources. In addition to comprehensive questionnaires from Sustainable Asset Management Indexes, an independent asset management company based in Zurich, Dow Jones conducts extensive analyses of company documentation, including sustainability, environmental, health and safety, social and annual financial reports.

It also reviews the previous year’s media reports, press releases and articles written about companies under scrutiny. Finally, analysts personally contact companies for clarification on any matters that may arise from questionnaires and company documents, in the form of telephonic or face to face interviews.

John Prestbo, Executive Director of Dow Jones Indexes, said that there is an increasing awareness of the importance of sustainability for long-term corporate performance. “A growing number of market participants are integrating long-term economic, environmental and social factors into their analysis.”

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