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
Lowest Overall Scores
Warner Music Group
Univision Communications Inc
Live Nation, Inc.
Highest Environmental Reporting Scores
Warner Music Group
Highest Social Reporting Scores
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
© 2009, Tracey de Morsella. All rights reserved. Do not republish.