Business and Society

SAM and KPMG publish 2012 Sustainability Yearbook

May 31, 2012 | 2 min read

Four perspectives on sustainability

To kick off the collaboration between SAM and KPMG, the 2012 Yearbook offers four perspectives on current sustainability topics. First, KPMG examines why sustainability has become increasingly important to governments and companies in some of the world’s fastest growing economies. The second chapter focuses on innovation management as a component of SAM’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment (CSA). Furthermore, SAM focuses on the chemical industry and identifies some of the specific factors that differentiate the sustainability leaders from the laggards in this industry. Lastly, in an interview, President at Royal Philips Electronics Frans van Houten points out why innovation is central to his company’s mission and explains how Philips integrates sustainability into its overall innovation management strategy.

Sustainability drives innovation

SAM has been evaluating companies on their innovation management approach since 2009 and results show that an effective sustainability strategy is one of the key drivers of innovation. Additionally, recent findings show that 24% of companies have an excellent innovation management performance, 37% are average, and 39% have a poor performance. Consumer goods, healthcare and basic materials are the sectors with the highest percentage of companies receiving an excellent innovation score. Geographically, Europe and Asia (except Japan) have the most companies with excellent innovation performance, while scores are lower in North America and Japan.

Geographical breakdown

Companies in Europe lead the way. This year, Portugal emerges as a global leader in corporate sustainability followed by Spain and Italy. Out of all Portuguese companies eligible for inclusion in the Yearbook, 67% are included. In comparison: in the United States only 9% of all eligible American companies made the Yearbook this year. A geographical breakdown of the companies based on their country of domicile reflects a high level of disclosure — and as a result, higher average scores — for companies based in Europe and Asia — except for Japan. In the U.S. and Japan the scores are lower. This can be explained by the fact that many technology companies, which were found to be less transparent, are located in those two countries. The rest of Asia, home to a large number of IT companies, is an exception to this trend and hosts a higher percentage of companies with an excellent innovation score.

Sector Leaders and Movers

Every year, the world’s 2,500 largest companies (based on the Dow Jones Global Total Stock Market Index) are invited to participate in SAM’s Corporate Sustainability Assessment. Only the top 15% from each of the 58 SAM sectors qualify for inclusion in the annual Sustainability Yearbook. Companies with the highest score in their sector receive recognition as SAM Sector Leaders and are considered to be the best prepared to seize the opportunities and manage the risks deriving from economic, environmental and social developments. Companies that achieved the largest improvement of their sustainability performance are recognized as SAM Sector Movers.


This article may be reproduced according to our terms of use with attribution (and link, if online) to To be cited as: “SAM and KPMG publish 2012 Sustainability Yearbook”,, May 31, 2012.

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Sustainability Yearbook 2012
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