Issue: Oct 2011

Ford, Toyota and Volkswagen Recognized for Best ESG Practices

Sustainability Performance Review of Automotive Industry Cites Environment, Product Safety and Workplace/Human Rights as Three Most Critical Issues in Assessing Performance and Impact

by Steve Barclay

Three automakers – Toyota Motor Corporation, Ford Motor Company and Volkswagen AG – were recognized today by U.S. sustainable and responsible investment (SRI) firm Calvert Investments for their leadership in environmental policies and practices, human rights and supply chain impacts through the development of strong workplace policies and programs, and leading product safety policies and practices, respectively.

In a report, "Calvert Investments Sustainability Performance Review – Automotive Industry," the Calvert Sustainability Research Department reviewed the environment, social and governance (ESG) practices of leading automakers. Calvert's investment evaluation of auto companies took into consideration seven environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) criteria: workplace practices; human rights; Indigenous Peoples' rights; governance and ethics; product quality and safety; community relations; and environment.

Calvert Sustainability Analyst Rebecca Henson said: "Global automakers are making major strides in the right direction on several key issues. This is an encouraging development that reflects the emergence of more thoughtful industry leaders who recognize that ESG considerations are now essential. Companies like Ford, Volkswagen, and Toyota are industry leaders on certain ESG issues, in ways that should inspire and guide other automakers that still have some way to go to catch up to them."

The Calvert Report included an assessment of U.S. manufacturers Ford and General Motors; the largest (by market cap) European auto company, Volkswagen; the largest (by market cap) Japanese manufacturer, Toyota; and a leading luxury/performance company, BMW.

The review found that, despite the recent economic turmoil, the American auto industry has emerged with a fundamentally different and more positive approach to sustainability, more focused on making cleaner, more efficient vehicles and less resistant to more aggressive fuel economy and emissions standards. The review has also found that the industry appears more focused on vehicle safety, particularly in light of recent unintended acceleration problems. Moreover, some automakers are increasingly trying to stay ahead of the curve on emerging sustainability issues, such as concerns over conflict minerals.

Calvert's Sustainability Research Department routinely reviews the sustainability performance of an industry segment to keep the company abreast of emerging ESG issues and to update the Calvert Signature® Strategy sustainability criteria. This process allows the department to refine its analysis of industry developments and provides the basis for updating sustainability criteria and its application to individual companies.

A copy of "Calvert Investments Sustainability Performance Review – Automotive Industry" is available online at

A leader in Sustainable and Responsible Investments (SRI), Calvert Investments offers investors among the widest choice of SRI strategies of any investment management company in the United States. Each SRI strategy employs one of three proprietary approaches. Calvert Signature® Strategies integrate two distinct research frameworks: a rigorous review of financial performance plus a thorough assessment of environmental, social and governance performance. Only when a company meets Calvert standards for both frameworks will we consider investing. Calvert Solution® Strategies selectively invest in companies that produce products and services designed to solve some of today's most pressing sustainability challenges. Calvert SAGE™ Strategies emphasize strategic engagement to advance environmental, social and governance performance in companies that may not meet Calvert standards today, but have the potential to improve. More information on Calvert SRI strategies is available at

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