Thailand firms lead region on Dow Jones Sustainability Index

sustainable2Fourteen Thai companies were named to this year’s Dow Jones Sustainability Index last week, the most firms from any country in Southeast Asia, demonstrating that some of the Kingdom’s largest corporations are leading the way towards better and greener business practices and setting examples for others when it comes to doing business according to sustainable principles.

“I want to congratulate the companies. This is our achievement in promoting environmental, social and governance among listed companies for sustainable growth. This will turn listed companies into an outstanding asset class for local and foreign investors,” said Stock Exchange of Thailand President Kesara Manchusree.

The companies spanned a variety of sectors and included energy firms, telecommunications companies, agro-industry corporations, banks, retail giants and hospitality firms.

The 14 companies named were: Advanced Info Service, Airports of Thailand, Banpu, Charoen Pokphand Foods, Central Pattana, IRPC, KBank, Minor International, Siam Cement, PTT, PTT Exploration and Production, PTT Global Chemical, Thai Oil and Thai Union Group.

Perhaps the most surprising entry was Thai Union Group, a major seafood production and trading firm that has come under fire in recent years as civil society organizations accused it of overfishing, environmental destruction, labor abuse and human trafficking.

Thai Union has taken, however, a number of steps to eliminate abuses from its supply chains. It has worked with government, industry groups, civil society organizations and international agencies such as the International Labor Organization to reform its business practices and separate itself from suppliers that violate rights and commit environmental destruction.

Inclusion in the Dow Jones Sustainability Index is a validation of Thai Union’s progress and efforts.

Among the other new entrants, Kasikorn Bank, also known as KBank, became the first Thai bank – and the first bank in the 10-nation Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) – to make the Index.

Thailand’s aviation sector has been a cause of concern on regulatory agency but the government is working hard to rectify.  Airports of Thailand, a privatized state company that operates the six largest airports in the Kingdom, including Suvarnabhumi International Airport in Bangkok, was named to the Index this year, indicating its performance is exemplary.

Agro-industry giant Charoen Pokphand’s inclusion in the Index is a testament to how far this family firm, which began as a seed shop in Bangkok’s Chinatown district decades ago, has come. Once criticized for the backward practices typical of family firms, Charoen Pokphand has spent the past 15 years revamping and restructuring to become a model modern conglomerate.