Australia lags behind on progressive measures

Bluechip Australian companies lag behind Europe and Japan when it comes to environmental standards, while only two in 10 local firms have policies on overseas labour exploitation, a global ethical investment report finds.

But Australian and New Zealand firms in environmentally sensitive industries such as mining and agriculture are better than their counterparts in the United States and most of Asia.

Australia also scored well in the areas of corporate governance and equal opportunity for women.

The London-based Ethical Investment Research Service (EIRIS) study of about 2,000 major stock exchange-listed companies in Europe, North America and the Asia-Pacific region, found 75 per cent of so-called “high-impact” Australian and New Zealand companies had basic or advanced environmental policies.

By comparison, more than 90 per cent of similar companies in Europe and Japan had environmental standards.

Australian companies were still ahead of the United States, on 67 per cent.

In Asia, outside of Japan, only 15 per cent of companies had environmental policies.

More alarmingly, 80 per cent of Australian companies in sectors such as textiles and electronics, did not demonstrate any evidence of labour standards for their supply chain – putting them on the same level as the United States and New Zealand.

Conversely, one in two European companies had policies on outsourced global labour.

Centre for Australian Ethical Research chief executive Duncan Paterson says he is concerned local companies had not performed better on a range of issues.

“This is a wake-up call for Australian companies,” he says.

“We often congratulate ourselves on how well we’re doing – and individual companies are doing very well – but with our performance on these issues, hopefully that will be addressed in the future.”

Source: Industry Search

Preview Logistics Magazine’s October issue (Out October 3) on a related topic: Providers seek competetive advanatge through sustainability

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