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Awards for Corporate Governance 21 April 1994

THE EARTH TIMES

APRIL 21, 1994

Companies lauded on environment

Awards given by watchdog group

By Ashali Varma

The Council on Economic Priorities (CEP), a non-profit, public research organization, has named the Brooklyn Union Gas Company, S.C. Johnson & Son, Inc., Stonyfield Farm Inc., SAS Institute and Levi Strauss & Company for its 1994 America’s Corporate Conscience Awards.  To mark its 25th Anniversary, CEP also selected Xerox and Shorebank Corporation for its special Silver Anniversary Awards.

Alice Tepper Marlin, Founder and head of CEP said in an interview with The Earth Times, “To qualify for the award the companies have to have a good overall social rating over a long period of time.  The priorities we look for are community involvement, environmental stewardship, responsiveness to employees and international commitment.”

Xerox, a previous America’s Corporate Conscience Award winner, was recognized for outstanding attention to equal opportunity employment and community involvement.  Marlin said, “Xerox has a good record for the advancement of minorities, for extraordinary environmental programs such as eliminating CFCs, impressive product modification and a system for worldwide auditing, which involves maintaining the same high standards in their operations abroad.

Shorebank Corporation, a small bank in Chicago was rewarded for its leadership in development banking and commitment to investing in depressed communities.  “Since 1974 the bank has loaned more than $225 million to over 8,000 borrowers all in local communities.  In fact President Clinton said more banks should be modeled after it,” said Marlin.

The CEP has been in the business of rating companies for their environmental and other “ethical concept” policies for a quarter of a century.  Its paperback book, “Shopping for a Better World,” has sold more than one million copies since 1989, Marlin said, “The attitude of corporate America has changed dramatically since 1969.  Now every company recognizes that it has a social responsibility and investors and consumers have a right to information on the company’s environmental and social policies.”

CEP’s big break came when the study of the cost effectiveness of nuclear plants revealed that nuclear power was not cheaper in the long run.  CEP’s study made headlines news in The New York Times, The Washington Post and science magazines.  By 1978 not a single nuclear power plant had been ordered.  This, according to Marlin, was one of the their greatest achievements.