Standard Bank Group has been listed as a best performer on the Johannesburg Stock Exchange (JSE) Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) Index in the low environmental impact category. It is one of only six organisations to achieve this ranking for five consecutive years.
Of the 100 companies independently assessed, 74 qualified for listing as constituents on the Index. As a financial services organisation, Standard Bank Group automatically falls into the low environmental impact category.
The JSE SRI Index was created in 2004 with four key objectives. It aims to identify those JSE-listed companies that integrate the principles of the triple bottom line and good governance into their business activities.
It provides a tool for broad holistic assessment of company policies and practices against globally aligned and locally relevant corporate responsibility standards. It serves as a facilitation vehicle for responsible investment for investors looking for non-financial risk variables to include in investment decisions, as such risks carry the potential for significant financial impact. And, the Index contributes to the development of responsible business practice in South Africa and beyond.
Companies are assessed on publicly available information by two organisations: EIRIS, a leading global, not for profit organisation that provides independent research on more than 100 elements of the environmental, social, governance (ESG) and ethical performance of some 3 000 companies globally; and the Unit for Corporate Governance in Africa at the University of Stellenbosch Business School. During the assessment process, companies may be asked to provide additional information.
Criteria against which companies are assessed include environmental impact, policy, management, and reporting; climate change strategy, management, disclosure, performance, and innovation; stakeholder issues that include employee training and development, trade unions and employee participation, equal opportunities, black economic empowerment, health and safety, HIV/Aids, community involvement, and stakeholder engagement and reporting; and governance issues that include board practice, codes of ethics, and business value and risk management.
The JSE SRI assessment of Standard Bank Group found that it had met all environmental best practice policy, systems, and reporting requirements. In terms of the bank's social impact, it met all core indicators and 44 out of a possible 49 desirable indicators. It met all core and desirable governance and related sustainability requirements and was ranked at entry level for climate change requirements.
The 2011 JSE SRI Index climate change threshold was higher than 2010 and the environmental performance category is new.
"We're delighted to be maintaining our position as a best performer, especially as the criteria for responsible investment are evolving and maturing as sustainability concepts are refined over time," says Karin Ireton, Standard Bank Group's director of group sustainability management.
"At the same time, we continue to pro-actively evolve our own sustainability practices, testing each one against a business case, bedding it down, and then building on it so as to ensure that we eventually have sustainability fully integrated across all our activities and taken for granted as the foundation for everything we do."
In October, Standard Bank Group was ranked South Africa's "greenest" company in the 2011 Newsweek Green Rankings. The bank was ranked 13th globally in the Financial Sector category and 45th overall, ahead of the other four South African mining, telecoms, financial services, and industrial companies on the same list.
For more on our programmes, see www.standardbank.com/sustainability
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