Scrutiny of the Corporate Green: A Simultaneous Act of Shareholder Faith and Economics

From The Observer of Sunday May 7, 2006 we learned that Royal Dutch Shell will face environmental, social, and economic critiques at its annual meeting in The Hague and London on 16 May. A shareholder resolution claiming better performance is needed was initiated by the faith-based Ecumenical Council for Corporate Responsibility . A communiqué from the Council to shareholders contains riveting language: "The militants who kidnapped Shell oil workers recently took their hostages on a tour of the Delta, so that for the first time they saw for themselves the damage that the Company's operations have caused". And that is not all."And the oil and gas company is facing a double whammy over its performance: an EU-funded project, Advance (Application and Dissemination of Value-Based Eco-Ratings in Financial Markets), has assessed the environmental performance of 65 European manufacturers for 'sustainable value', or non-financial corporate performance in monetary terms . The highest ranked company at present, getting a sustainable value of more than €26.1bn, is DaimlerChrysler. Shell ranks lowest on the list, with a negative value of €180bn."

Note: the photo at top of this post is of one of the Advance study's authors, Professor Frank Figge, who is quoted as saying, "The underlying logic of the Sustainable Value Approach is simple -a company only creates value with an environmental resource, such as water, if it generates more return with that resource than other companies."

One can not drive a Daimler-Chrysler product very far, so to speak, without the services of Shell, so that the ranking seems counter-intuitive at first. It is never too late to do better in all of the ways critiqued. Perhaps that will be the intersection of faith and finance at the meeting: a melding of human and shareholder value.

Looked at from a US point of view, it is as if there were a divided globe, with only the beginnings of continental faith synchrony: this circumspect one in Europe; and this nascent one in North America. It will be most interesting to see if the two cultures of "value" come together in US stockholder meetings.

It's not easy being a big company. Nor is it easy being a highly profiled critic. TreeHugger submits that reading the linked material ought to be a minimum pre-requisite for commenting. For that matter, here is what Shell has to say .