This excerpt taken from the SWY DEF 14A filed Apr 12, 2005.
Disclosure of key information is a founding principle of our capital markets.
Investors increasingly seek disclosure of companies social and environmental practices in the belief that they impact shareholder value. Many investors believe companies that are good employers, environmental stewards, and corporate citizens will more likely prosper over the long term and be accepted in their communities. The link between sustainability performance and long term shareholder value is awakening mainstream financial companies to new tools for understanding and predicting capital markets. According to environmental research consultant Innovest, major investment firms including ABN-AMRO, Neuberger Berman, Schroders, T. Rowe Price, and Zurich/Scudder subscribe to information on companies social and environmental practices to help make investment decisions.
A growing number of companies are issuing sustainability reports. According to the Dow Jones Sustainability Group, sustainability includes: Encouraging long lasting social well being in communities where they operate, interacting with different stakeholders (e.g. clients, suppliers, employees, government, local communities, and non-governmental organizations) and responding to their specific and evolving needs, thereby securing a long-term license to operate, superior customer and employee loyalty, and ultimately superior financial returns.
Companies increasingly recognize that transparency and dialogue about sustainability are key to business success. For example, Ford Motor Company states, sustainability issues are neither incidental nor avoidablethey are at the heart of our business. Baxter International sees sustainability reporting as a balanced way of thinking, acting and driving accountability across Baxter each and every day. American Electric Power states that, management and the Board have a fiduciary duty to carefully assess and disclose to shareholders appropriate information on the companys environmental risk exposure.
Moreover, many global organizations, like the European Union Framework for Corporate Social Responsibility, support corporate sustainability reporting. The national governments of Australia, Japan and the United Kingdom recommend sustainability reporting. In addition, companies listed on the Johannesburg and Paris Stock Exchanges are now required to report non-financial information related to corporate social and environmental performance.