December 31, 2009
Korean Companies Expect to Increase Sustainability Management Practices
by Robert Kropp
Survey finds that while such issues as environmental management and supply chain management remain
low among corporate priorities in Korea, climate change legislation and the outperformance of
sustainable companies will lead to widespread implementation.
Sixty-five percent of 187 corporate respondents to a survey conducted by SolAbility, a provider of environmental, social, and
governance (ESG) research for institutional investors, believe that the economic crisis has
“highlighted the need for sustainable management thinking and management systems” in Korea.
The survey, entitled Corporate Sustainability
Survey 2009: Korea, also found that 55% of responding organizations have already implemented
some form of sustainability activity into their operations. Respondents were nearly unanimous in
expecting that their companies will have fully implemented sustainability management practices by
One reason for such high expectations regarding sustainability management by Korean
companies, of course, is forthcoming regulatory action on climate change. At present, corporate
attention to climate change is a relatively low priority, according to the survey. But more than
two-thirds of respondents expect climate change to become a significant issue for companies by
At present, sustainability management practices by Korean companies reflect a
traditional prioritization of social and ethical considerations, as ethical management and
philanthropy were reported as the top two sustainability practices implemented. Conversely,
environmental management, supply chain management, and integration of sustainable practices into
manufacturing processes, remain low on corporate agendas.
The survey found that the issue
of climate change is not the only one expected to drive a greater attention to sustainability in
Korea. A growing acknowledgement of the financial benefits of sustainable measures such as
technological innovation and energy efficiency has contributed to a cultural shift in corporate
attitudes toward sustainability in Korea.
The superior financial performance of the top
sustainable companies in Korea has been noticed as well. SolAbility’s ESG research has found that
“the most sustainable companies demonstrate a clear outperformance of the Korean stock exchange
over a long range of time.”
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