Claremont McKenna College’s Roberts Environmental Center recently released a detailed analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of the world’s top entertainment corporations that revealed that the entertainment sector lags behind most others in corporate environmental and sustainability reporting. The report scores companies based on the reporting, intent, and performance of their environmental and social sustainability efforts. The research, based entirely on material released on the firms’ Web sites, found that Bertelsmann, a German firm, and CBS, Viacom, and Walt Disney, outperformed the industry giants News Corp. and Time Warner. However, these firms scores were mediocre when compared to the scores of companies in other industries.

The entertainment sector lags behind most others in corporate environmental and sustainability reporting. No company scored any points in environmental performance and only Disney, Bertelsmann, News Corp., and Time Warner received points for environmental reporting. According to Bukola Jimoh, project research analyst, the sector suffered from a general lack of both quantitative and qualitative information on sustainability and environmental policy. Only a few companies mentioned climate change and only Bertelsmann reported having an environmental management system in place. The entertainment sector lags behind most others in corporate environmental and sustainability reporting.

“The Entertainment sector is not very active yet in sustainability reporting,” said J. Emil Morhardt, Roberts Professor of Environmental Biology at Claremont McKenna College and director of the Roberts Environmental Center. “But, its largest potential influence on public and corporate sustainability behavior could be through its commercial products. Addressing issues such as climate change and ecological damage in TV and radio programming, in movies, or in Web sites (such as Viacom’s MTV Switch) is likely to be far more influential than publicizing anything done in the course of company operations.” But, as Morhardt pointed out, “There isn’t a good way yet to quantify, or even identify such activities.”

To create the report’s ranking, Morhardt and his team evaluated each company’s Web site using the Pacific Sustainability Index including sector-specific questions. The index uses a general systematic questionnaire to analyze the quality of sustainability reporting. The selection of questions was based on the most frequently-mentioned topics in almost 1,800 corporate sustainability documents analyzed from 2002 through 2008 by the Roberts Environmental Center. The companies’ grades in this report were assigned on a grading curve, giving an A+ to the highest scoring companies and those with scores near it.

“In the current business climate, a demonstration of corporate social responsibility is more important than ever,” continued Morhardt. “What we are analyzing is the quality of that demonstration–how transparent the companies are with respect to their environmental and social issues, and how good a job they are doing resolving any problems they currently have and avoiding future ones.”

The detailed analyses also reveal what social and environmental themes these companies perceive to be most important to the American public today. The research screened Web site content to determine the most frequently reported topics. Companies with environmental achievements tended to tout their accountability and energy efficiency efforts while socially responsible businesses highlighted their superior policies and care for human rights.

Sustainability and Social Reporting Scoring Summary
Highest Overall Scores
Bertelsmann
CBS
Walt Disney

Lowest Overall Scores
Warner Music Group
Univision Communications Inc
Live Nation, Inc.

Highest Environmental Reporting Scores
Walt Disney
Bertelsmann
News Corp.
Warner Music Group

Highest Social Reporting Scores
Bertelsmann
CBS
Viacom

Most Frequent Environmental Performance Topic: Accountability
Most Frequent social reporting Topic:
Energy
Most Frequent Social Performance Topic: Policy
Most Frequent Environmental Reporting Topic: Human Rights

Click here to view Roberts Environmental Center 2009 Entertainment Sector Analysis.

© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.

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Author: Tracey de Morsella (323 Articles)

Tracey de Morsella started her career working as an editor for US Technology Magazine. She used that experience to launch Delaware Valley Network, a publication for professionals in the Greater Philadelphia area. Years later, she used the contacts and resources she acquired to work in executive search specializing in technical and diversity recruitment. She has conducted recruitment training seminars for Wachovia Bank, the Department of Interior and the US Postal Service. During this time, she also created a diversity portal called The Multicultural Advantage and published the Diversity Recruitment Advertising Toolkit, a directory of recruiting resources for human resources professionals. Her career and recruitment articles have appeared in numerous publications and web portals including Woman Engineer Magazine, Monster.com, About.com Job Search Channel, Workplace Diversity Magazine, Society for Human Resource Management web site, NSBE Engineering Magazine, HR.com, and Human Resource Consultants Association Newsletter. Her work with technology professionals drew her to pursuing training and work in web development, which led to a stint at Merrill Lynch as an Intranet Manager. In March, she decided to combine her technical and career management expertise with her passion for the environment, and with her husband, launched The Green Economy Post, a blog providing green career information and covering the impact of the environment, sustainable building, cleantech and renewable energy on the US economy. Her sustainability articles have appeared on Industrial Maintenance & Plant Operation, Chem.Info,FastCompany and CleanTechies.