The Roberts Environmental Center of Claremont McKenna College (CMC) recently released a detailed analysis of the social responsibility reporting efforts of America’s top energy and utilities corporations. The two reports contain a compilation of Pacific Sustainability Index scores evaluating the environmental and social reporting of the 48 U.S. energy and utilities companies on the 2008 Fortune 1000 list.The reports score companies based on the reporting, intent, and performance of environmental and social sustainability efforts. The research, based entirely on material released on the firms’ Web sites, found that two of the smallest firms – Mirant (energy sector) and Pinnacle West Capital (utilities sector) – did the best jobs of describing details of their socially beneficial actions and environmental management. The lowest scores were also shared by small firms – Adams Resources and Energy, Inc., and Atmos Energy Corp. – but there was a good mix of firms of all sizes throughout the range of scoring. In neither sector is size a predictor of good reporting.

“In most sectors we analyze, particularly when large multinationals are included, we do see an effect of firm size on corporate reporting,” said J. Emil Morhardt, Roberts Professor of Environmental Biology at CMC and director of the Roberts Environmental Center. “The larger firms have greater visibility, are likely to be examined by investors and the public more closely, and they have more resources to do the data collection and reporting in the first place.” But, as Morhardt pointed out, “There are always some smaller companies that are proactive in this area, usually those that believe demonstrations of corporate environmental and social responsibility are expected from their customers.”

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 company’s 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.

To view the complete reports, visit the  Roberts Environmental Center web site.

Scoring Summary
—————                                                               —————-
Energy Sector                                                      Utilities Sector
————-                                                                   —————-

Highest Overall Scores
Mirant                                                                         Pinnacle West Capital
Constellation Energy                                            Wisconsin Energy
American Electric Power                                    Duke Energy

Highest Environmental Reporting Scores
Mirant                                                                        Pinnacle West Capital
Constellation Energy                                          Wisconsin Energy
American Electric Power                                  Pepco Holdings, Inc.

Highest Social Reporting Scores
Mirant                                                                      Pinnacle West Capital
Constellation Energy                                         Duke Energy
Integrys Energy Corp.                                      Wisconsin Energy

Lowest Overall Scores
Adams Resources and Energy                     Atmos Energy Corp.
Ferrellgas Partners                                           Ameren
New Jersey Resources                                    AES Corp.

© 2009 – 2011, 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.