Calvert  News & Commentary

Calvert Refreshes Leading SRI Index

New entrants to the Calvert Social Index address global challenges.

9/24/2013

The Calvert Social Index® is a broad-based, rigorously constructed benchmark for measuring the performance of US-based sustainable and responsible companies. The baseline for this annually updated benchmark is the 1,000 largest companies in the US, based on total market capitalization, included in the Dow Jones Total Market Index (the Dow Jones TMI). Then Calvert’s Sustainability Research Department determines which companies meet each and every one of Calvert’s Signature Strategies® environmental, social and governance (ESG) criteria. The Index encompasses the list of companies that qualify. Every September, Calvert reconstitutes the Calvert Social Index with an updated list of those companies that meet our Signature criteria. As of September 23, 2013, there are 708 companies in the Index.

When it comes to managing sustainability, we believe small and mid-cap companies are increasingly taking their cues from large–cap companies. For example, the understanding of what sustainability means is shifting from a traditional ESG risk management approach to one which identifies ESG–related opportunities as sources of competitive advantage (such as the two companies below). Companies also increasingly realize this shift means that they must respond to the growing investor demand for transparency on ESG issues. Studies show that the trend in sustainability reporting continues to rise; one recently concluded that 53% of the S&P 500 now publish sustainability reports. Calvert contributes to these shifting trends by using its influence with companies through direct dialogues, multi–stakeholder engagements and in-person company meetings. In fact, we have found that many of the small to mid–cap companies are strong targets for dialogue.

Below are profiles of two recent additions to the Calvert Social Index:

First Solar

Arizona–based First Solar is a leading manufacturer and retailer of solar energy systems and components – photovoltaic (PV) solar modules.  The company has the distinction of having produced the most efficient solar panel from cadmium-telluride in 2013.

Fossil fuels are a finite resource and the world’s reliance on them is accelerating at a rapid pace.  As such, Calvert has long supported a move towards a low-carbon economy fueled by alternative energy solutions, including solar.  We believe alternative energy companies, such as First Solar, are particularly well positioned to benefit from the growing demand for renewables.

As a member of World Wildlife Fund’s Clean Energy Ambassadors program, First Solar advocates for supportive clean energy policy and investment opportunities. Not only does the company offer solar energy solutions, but it responsibly discloses its commitment to environmental management through annual reporting to the Carbon Disclosure Project.

While First Solar meets Calvert’s Signature sustainability criteria, we look to the company to continue strengthening its disclosure and management of ESG risks and opportunities in the future.

WhiteWave Food Company

WhiteWave is a Texas-based producer of organic and conventional dairy and plant–based products. The company is behind US brands, such as International Delight®, LAND O LAKES®, Silk®, and Horizon®. In Europe, the company is well-known for Alpro® and Provamel® brands.

We believe the greatest opportunity in this industry lies in nutrition and health – particularly the demand for organic and natural foods – and that WhiteWave is well positioned to benefit. For example, WhiteWave has publicly committed to becoming entirely GMO–free in its soymilk products in the US and Europe, and Horizon recommitted to supporting US organic, family farms. The company also currently represents 40% of the US organic milk market. One particular ESG risk for agricultural companies includes exposure to products safety issues. WhiteWave takes this quite seriously and mitigates this risk by requiring its suppliers to implement rigorous quality and safety standards.

WhiteWave meets Calvert’s Signature sustainability criteria. As the company continues to grow, Calvert believes the company could benefit from stronger disclosure of sustainability–related policies, programs, and performance.



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