Hugo Boss, Adidas, Gildan Top the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index

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Photo: Courtesy of Adidas

When it comes to sustainability in fashion, Adidas, Burberry, Gildan Activewear, Hugo Boss, and Kering come out tops, according to the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index (DJSI World), an annual review that ranks the 2,500 largest companies in Standard & Poor’s Global Broad Market Index based on their economic, environmental, and social practices.

As the longest-running global sustainability benchmark, the DJSI World has become a key reference for sustainability-focused investors, as well as a platform for promoting best practices in corporate governance, supply-chain standards, and operational efficiency.

Since 1999, S&P Dow Jones Indices has worked with RobecoSAM, a sustainability investment firm based in Zurich, Switzerland, to assess a stable of companies using a questionnaire-based methodology known as the Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). Developed by RobecoSAM, the CSA compiles roughly 600 data points, gleaned from a series of industry-specific questions, into a Total Sustainability Score that ranges from 0 to 100. The leading 10 percent of scorers in each industry are then included in the index.

To broaden the playing field, an additional 1,100 companies are invited every year to participate in one of the regional and country-specific sustainability indices. These include the DJSI North America, the DJSI Europe, the DJSI Asia Pacific, and the DJSI Emerging Markets.

“Being a pioneer and thought leader in sustainability investing for over 20 years, we understand the right questions to ask in our CSA in terms of financially material sustainability aspects within the corporate world,” Manjit Jus, head of sustainability application and operations at RobecoSAM, said in a statement. “This is what firms appreciate about the CSA. It brings them a big step ahead in terms of corporate sustainability and with this—a big step ahead of their competitors—getting a coveted spot in the DJSI makes sure they continue to play in the premier league of companies.”

The CSA isn’t a static tool, Jus added. To reflect the evolving interest of investors, criteria for tax strategy and materiality were added to the methodology in 2014 and 2016, respectively.

Still, the DJSI World is dominated by veterans. Adidas made the Consumer Durables & Apparel category for the 18th consecutive year, while at the same time rating best in industry for criteria such as brand management, environmental policy and management systems, corporate citizenship and philanthropy, and human rights. Canada’s Gildan landed a position on the list for its fifth year in a row. For Paris-based conglomerate Kering, it was its fourth. In the case of Burberry, the British label’s third time continued to be a charm.

There was one new face, however: Hugo Boss, which not only made the cut for the first time but was also declared best in class for environmental reporting, labor practice indicators, product stewardship, and tax strategy.

“The inclusion of Hugo Boss in this index underscores the company’s efforts to promote sustainability in recent years and evaluates these in relation to other companies in the textile industry,” the German-based brand said in a statement, adding that sustainability and innovation have become key tenets of its ethos.

Under the secondary indices, Adidas, Burberry, and Kering ruled over DJSI Europe. Asics held its position as the sole apparel company on the DJSI Asia Pacific for the third consecutive time. Although Nike rejoined Gildan on the DJSI North America, PVH, which accompanied the two on the list in 2016, dropped off in 2017.

Despite its vociferous and well-publicized sustainability push, H&M, which rated on the World index for a fourth consecutive year in 2015, followed up its 2016 disappearing act with a 2017 absence from all indices.


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