Comparative analysis of sustainability performance

For the first time, the 2010 Sustainability Report included two comparisons between Terna’s results and those of other companies, regarding the per-capita number of training hours and SF6 leakage. The initiative was based on the belief that comparing environmental, social and governance performances is of interest both to the company itself and to stakeholders that are thus provided with reference points for assessing the sustainability commitment by comparing the most objective data. On the basis of this belief, the comparison is extended in this Report to a larger number of indicators, seven in total: water consumption, CO2 emissions, SF6 leakage, waste, training, gender pay gap, turnover rate of employees leaving. The choice of indicators was based on a criteria of interest within the identification of benchmarks, as well as on a verification of the amount of data actually available for the comparison. In this respect, the comparison on occupational injuries, while being of interest, did not lead to significant results owing to the uncertainty regarding the calculation method adopted by the different companies in processing injury and lost day rates.

Below the principal criteria are listed, that were adopted in the analysis as a basis for interpreting the comparison on each indicator within the Report:

  • three panels of companies were identified: one for the sector, formed by European transmission companies (Transmission System Operators) and by the major non-European companies according to kilometers of lines managed, and two multi-sector panels; the first one of these formed by large Italian companies (the 40 companies in the FTSE-MIB as of January 12, 2012) and the second one formed by the international best performers (the 19 Supersector global Leaders identified by the SAM – Sustainable Asset Management sustainability rating agency, in the publication SAM Sustainability Yearbook 2011). The purpose of the three panels is to guarantee, also with respect to the type of indicator examined, a comparison among the companies having the same operational characteristics, an Italian comparison and one with the international top performers.

Terna’s data does not contribute to the calculation of the average in the SAM – Supersector Leaders panel, but the figures are highlighted in the graphs;

  • among the companies included in the three panels, the ones considered were those that publish in their website information that is useful for comparisons, through the Sustainability Report (also if it is not drafted following the GRI guidelines) or through other documents (HSE Reports, financial reports, etc.). This had led to reducing the sample compared to the initial panel, as illustrated in the following table;
  • the number of useful cases, in the three samples, for a comparison with each indicator, is often lower than the number of companies that publish Sustainability Reports. This depends above all on the unavailability of the indicator in the Sustainability Report of various companies, but also often on the adopting – on the part of the sample companies – of different definitions or measuring units which do not allow for a comparison. Compatibly with the indications provided for by the GRI Protocols, our choice was to favor the definition to which the highest number of useful responses corresponds in all three panels. In some cases, we excluded data that was contradictory with other data published in the same Report, while in other cases it was possible to redefine, on the basis of other data published, a coherent indicator with the definition adopted, even if not published. The details regarding these aspects are explained in the comment to the data of each indicator included in the Report.
  • reference to the Sustainability Reports published is based on the 2010 data since the comparisons were prepared while the 2011 Reports were being drafted, as was the case with Terna’s.

It is necessary to point out that despite the exclusion of data that is explicitly not uniform, in many cases doubts remain regarding the actual comparability among companies, particularly when considering the distance among the average performances and the best ones: it is likely that significant discrepancies depend from different application criteria – not clarified – of the GRI protocols rather than from particularly virtuous corporate conduct.

Some of the indicators considered (water consumption, waste produced, CO2 emissions) are expressed as physical quantities in absolute value and therefore record levels that are very different with respect to the type of production activities and to the size of the business. In these cases, the comparison provides information regarding the different relevance of the environmental aspects considered for the individual companies, but does not accomplish the task of rendering performances comparable. Even the presentation of data per employee (water consumption, waste) is unsatisfactory: the development of relative indicators that are appropriate for each recorded situation – starting from Terna’s data – represents an objective for continuing and further analyzing comparisons and more generally, for improving the Sustainability Report’s information capability.

The issue of comparability is central to sustainability reporting and represents the object of a research project conducted upon the initiative of the CSR Manager Network, by Altis – Università Cattolica di Milano, in collaboration with the National Statistics Office (ISTAT) and supported by Terna also directly participating in data analysis, with the additional contribution of the comparisons published in this Report.

Further details on companies examined and on other methodological aspects are available in the Sustainability section of Terna’s website:

  Panel TSO Panel FTSE-MIB Panel SAM - Supersector Leaders
No. of Companies considered 55 40 19
No. of companies with GRI reporting 18 26 18
No. of Companies with useful data 24 27 19