Sunday, January 11, 2015

Forest City crows about rank of second on "Most Improved Corporate Citizens"; metrics don't touch dicey issues

How about this press release, headlined Forest City second in “Most Improved Corporate Citizens” Ranking by Corporate Responsibility Magazine:
CLEVELAND, Ohio, January 7, 2015 /3BL Media/ – Forest City Enterprises, Inc. (NYSE: FCEA and FCEB) ranked second among “Most Improved Corporate Citizens” in a recently published annual survey by Corporate Responsibility Magazine. The rankings, which appear in the magazine’s November/December 2014 issue, measure the corporate responsibility (CR) performance of each company in the Russell 1000, based on 298 publicly available data points related to CR. Forest City moved up 500 places in the 2014 rankings to finish at 320 among the 1000 companies surveyed.
“It’s gratifying that our ongoing commitment to corporate responsibility is being acknowledged,” said Jon Ratner, Forest City vice president of sustainability initiatives. “Sustainability and stewardship are core values for Forest City, and our commitment to transparency and improved CR performance are a direct extension of those core values.” 
Jill Ziegler, director of sustainability and corporate responsibility, added, “Over the past several years, we have significantly increased our external CR reporting, including adopting Global Reporting Initiative standards for our industry. There is more work to be done, but we’re pleased and honored to see our progress to date recognized in this way.” 
In introducing the rankings, the magazine noted, “This year, we decided to look at the companies that jumped the most number of places. That would show a new openness and willingness to be held accountable.”
(Emphasis added)

What exactly does this mean? Well, first, note that Forest City Enterprises is not yet at the level of the (ahem) leading corporate citizens like Bristol-Myers Squibb, Johnson & Johnson, and Gap. 

Also note that corporate citizenship is measured--though specifics are not easily available--by the following metrics, including corporate governance, philanthropy, and employee relations:

As I wrote last November, Forest City's second Corporate Social Responsibility report--based on those Global Reporting Initiative standards--maintained omissions about such dicey issues as campaign contributions and negative community impacts.

Nor would it touch the kind of behavior described in the bitter legal battle between Forest City Ratner and Skanska.

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