In four out of ten industry sectors, Nordic companies perform better on environment, human rights and corporate governance than their European competitors, according to a new study from GES Investment Services. But overall, British companies are outstanding.
The study serve as a basis for the selection of equities in Denmark’s largest fund for socially responsible investments, Investin Eurotop. The fund is managed by Nykredit Portefølje, which is one of Denmark’s largest money managers.
Within the IT sector, the Finnish company Nokia was found to be the leader; within materials Finnish Stora Enso; within health care Danish Novo Nordisk and within industry Swedish-Swiss ABB.
– It is not just a matter of complying with the most important conventions and other recognized guidelines for environment, human rights and corporate governance, says Erik Alhøj, Managing Director for GES Investment Services’ subsidiary in Danmark.
– The most sustainable companies within all sectors have also established a strong management preparedness, aiming at customer and employee satisfaction, systematic control of subcontractors, transparency on executive compensation, healthy working environment, etcetera.
In total, GES has studied the 300 largest companies in Europe. Ten percent of them are Nordic. But among the 100 companies with the highest sustainability rating, 15 percent are Nordic. Of these, nine companies are Swedish, three Norwegian, two Finnish and one Danish.
– But although the largest Nordic companies perform well, their focus on sustainability is not as well-developed as among British companies. While 26 percent of Europe’s largest companies are British, they account for 40 percent of the 100 companies that we have rated as best on sustainability, says Erik Alhøj.
On the other hand, the analysis shows that the largest South-European companies from Italy, Greece, Portugal and Spain are lagging behind, especially when it comes to reporting on environment and human rights.