Nikos Avlonas

Nikos Avlonas

President, Center for Sustainability & Excellence; Visiting Professor, Athens University of Economic and Business (AUEB)

Nikos Avlonas is Founder and President of the Centre for Sustainability & Excellence (CSE) a global Sustainability Strategic Advisory and Training firm with activities in North America, Europe, MENA and Asia. He is a recognized leader who has received multiple awards in Corporate Sustainability and Social Entrepreneurship. Nikos has been named to 2021 Environment+Energy Leader 100 Honoree List, awarded in 2018 by Silicon Valley Community Foundation and in 2017 by PR News as Practitioner of the year for setting new standards of excellence. He is a well-known international speaker in topics related to ESG and CSR. He is currently an Adjunct Professor at University of Illinois (UIC) in Chicago and awarded visiting Professor at Athens University of Economic and Business (AUEB), MBA international program since 2015.

CSE Research: ESG practices and commitments of 310 top Fortune 500 companies in Εurope & North America

CSE conducted a detailed analysis examining the ESG practices and commitments of 310 top Fortune500 companies in N.America from 31 sectors for the 2021 reporting year. The study investigated the relationship between common corporate ESG practices and the frameworks they use in relation to their profit. CSE found the counts of those utilizing common ESG reporting practices and standards/frameworks, such as SASB, TCFD, GRI, SDGs. Further, CSE consolidated ESG ratings performance through standards MSCI, CDP, Sustainalytics, and S&P Global. Finally, CSE analyzed climate-related goals, technologies, & commitment to Science-Based Targets.

The research showed an increased correlation between financial performance and ESG practices. The companies with the highest percentage increase in profits between 2020 and 2021 are characterized by the following: higher participation in ESG Ratings, higher use of ESG-related standards (SASB, TCFD), high ESG scores and ratings, incorporation of stakeholder concerns and preferences into their strategies, advanced reporting and communication practices, as well as short, medium, and long-term quantitative goals.

As for carbon related goals, more & more companies set emission reduction targets. 29% out of the 310 companies have validated near-term reduction targets, while almost 50% of them have also set net-zero targets. With respect to the most profitable company from each sector, the percentage that has set Science-based Targets rises to 61%. However, CSE finds that there is limited transparency on how these targets will be achieved.

Out of 310 companies evaluated, 86% published ESG report, 44% have included reference & commitments to UN SDGs, 74% have complied with the SASB Standards, and 64% reference the recommendation of TCFD. It also must be noted that the percentage of ESG reports that have been externally assured remains quite low (at 29%) despite the additional transparency and credibility offered by the external assurance process.