Barron’s reranked its 100 Most Sustainable Companies focusing on social commitments as the world continues to grapple with COVID-19 and protests over racial inequality.
In February the world seemed to be marching along as usual when Barron’s announced its annual list of the 100 Most Sustainable Companies, using some of the most stringent environmental guidelines in the industry today. The criteria fell within the three key pillars of ESG investing – environmental, social, and governance criteria. While both environmental and governance criteria are easier to quantify, the social criteria proved to be more challenging at that time.
Fast forward five months and the world is now in a markedly different place. Across the globe nearly 600,000 people have died from COVID-19 in a matter of months. Hundreds of thousands continue to take to the streets to protest police brutality and racial injustice. These events are bringing a renewed focus on social issues in society, in government and in business, and Barron’s took note.
According to Barron’s, the “list is based on 28 ESG categories covering a blend of 230 indicators.” But given what 2020 has wrought, Barron’s decided to rerank the top 100 companies based solely on these social factors and create two model portfolios.
The new criteria consider workplace diversity, data security, product quality, and how companies interact with their employees, customers, and communities.
Based on this new analysis, VF moved up from No. 21 in February to claim the No. 1 spot in June. The company attributes its quick rise to its “people first” response to the COVID-19 crisis and by making decisions through the lens of its purpose and guiding principles.
“At VF, we are deeply committed to using our size and scale to be a force for good in the world. In times of crisis, this commitment matters even more,” said Peter Higgins, Vice President, Global Responsible Sourcing. “We believe our success today is built on purpose-led decisions that emphasize positively impacting people and our planet. Barron’s recognition is not only an honor, but a validation that we are on the right path. While we are proud of our accomplishments, we know there is more to do.”
Some of the examples that likely contributed to VF’s top social scores include the company’s response to the coronavirus pandemic over the past few months, during which VF, The VF Foundation, and the VF family of brands provided more than $10.3 million worth of support in the fight against COVID-19. The aid included cash to support emergency responders, provide testing kits and medical supplies, and to feed the hungry, as well as in-kind product donations to first responders. The company also committed to producing more than 3 million isolation gowns for U.S. first responders and to continuing pay and benefits for all of our office, retail and distribution center associates during these challenging financial times. To learn more about the company’s efforts, click here.
At the same time, VF also stepped up the scale and depth of its inclusion and diversity (I&D) efforts following the tragic death of George Floyd this past May. In addition to establishing a new Council to Advance Racial Equity (CARE), which will drive VF’s strategy to combat racial inequity around the areas of educational access, economic equity and environmental justice, the company’s portfolio of brands have also initiated a range of activities to help address the issue of racial injustice. Most recently, a number of VF brands led by The North Face® suspended their paid advertising on Facebook and Instagram as part of the #StopHateforProfit movement designed to pressure these companies to more actively identify and remove hateful content. Led by our dedicated I&D leadership team and supported by CARE and our network of Employee Resource Groups, VF is continuing to build an inclusive culture where all associates, no matter their race, gender or sexual orientation, feel welcome and empowered to express their full potential.