Swedish companies need to provide ESG data and improve Careers information
By Freja Nilsson
Another edition of Webranking by Comprend has been finalised (the 26th edition, in fact), and we're excited to share the analysis of the Swedish results. Again, the websites of Sweden's 110 largest companies have been ranked using a set of criteria which were evaluated in an overall score. The average score hasn't changed, but we see a new top performer and some changes in performance in the different sections.
Not much has happened in terms of the overall performance of the Swedish companies in Webranking by Comprend 2022-2023. When looking at the average score of the 110 ranked Swedish companies, last year's score of 46 points remains unchanged. It's also still slightly above the European average score of 44 points.
A general guideline we apply is that a company should receive above 60 points to be seen as fulfilling stakeholder expectations sufficiently, which only 15 of the ranked companies do. There is no doubt that Swedish companies need to improve communication on their corporate websites, especially in certain areas.
When summarising the Swedish results, we draw the following conclusions:
Swedish companies provide detailed sustainability strategies with clear priorities for action, but data supporting the strategies is often missing.
The companies perform very well when it comes to providing governance-related information and have the second-highest average score of all countries. For example, many companies present separate Corporate Governance reports which is something the stakeholders appreciate.
The companies struggle with meeting jobseeker expectations and score below the European average, especially when it comes to providing information about flexible working possibilities.
Detailed sustainability strategies, but ESG data is missing
Last year, we saw an improvement in the Swedish companies' sustainability communication. This year's performance, on the other hand, remains the same. The overall performance is slightly below the European average of 45 points, so some improvements are definitely needed to meet the constantly increasing stakeholder expectations. Read more about which sustainability information is the most important this year.
One area in which Swedish companies perform well is in providing sustainability strategies, where 81% of the companies provide this. This can be compared to the European average of 77%.
A sustainability strategy should explain how the company's sustainability work is integrated into their business strategy. This is important to show stakeholders that the sustainability work is not seen as something separate from the rest of the business. Companies should also present clear explanations of how they plan to achieve their sustainability goals by providing clear priorities for action.
AFRY is a Swedish company that clearly explains their sustainability strategy and how it's related to the overall business strategy. They state that they aim to reduce the impact of their own business as well as their clients' impact. A link to the latest Annual and Sustainability report is available, making it easy to find for those who want to read further.
AFRY also showcase the three pillars on which their sustainability framework is based and explains what the pillars mean. Unlike many other companies, which only have quite vague information about how they will reach their targets, AFRY provide concise information about which actions they will take to reach them. Examples include having a Sustainability Learning Programme for their employees and combining design and engineering competencies to develop solutions that will help accelerate the sustainability transition. Additionally, AFRY present sustainability stories that highlight different themes, giving even more insight into their sustainability work.
When it comes to providing data on their environmental and social sustainability performance, Swedish companies fall behind — only 23% of the companies do this. Meanwhile, our Capital Market Survey shows that providing ESG data is more important than ever before. This year, 90% of the respondents found it essential for a company to present their sustainability targets, achievements and performance data. Providing a sustainability strategy and targets without supporting it with data, however, does not gain the trust of your stakeholders — they want proof. Read more about meeting the needs of multiple target groups in your sustainability communication.
The Swedish companies fall especially behind when it comes to presenting data on their environmental performance, such as key figures on carbon emissions, water consumption and waste disposal. The companies perform slightly better when it comes to providing social sustainability data.
There are multiple solutions and tools available for integrating sustainability data on your website. Assa Abloy presents a tool that showcases several key figures for each environmental area, including historical data from six years. In this way, stakeholders have a clear overview of the development of the company's performance. The company also presents KPIs for each environmental area, providing even further detail and transparency.
Transparent Governance information
Swedish companies perform very well when it comes to presenting governance information on their corporate websites. In fact, they have the second-best average performance of all countries (Finnish companies take the lead). On average, the Swedish companies fulfil 61% of the criteria in this section, and their performance has improved from last year. The main objective of a governance section is to offer complete transparency, and Swedish companies are heading in the right direction to achieve this.
Stakeholders want to find companies' governance information not only in the Annual Report, but also in a separate Governance Report. This is to make it easier to find.
A Corporate Governance Report should reflect how a company monitors the organisation's actions, policies, practices and decisions, as well as the effect these actions have on stakeholders.
The Swedish companies stand out among their European peers when it comes to presenting separate Governance Reports. 70% of the ranked companies provide this, which can be compared to the European average of 45%.
Handelsbanken presents a clear summary of their regulations for management and control, also including information about their auditors and remuneration paid to the management. The Governance reports are readily available to download on the same page, including reports from the last 14 years.
Careers performance below the European average
An area in which Swedish companies struggle to meet stakeholder expectations is positioning themselves as attractive employers. The overall performance is nine percentage points below the European average.
The Swedish results are especially concerning as jobseekers' expectations of what employers offer (e.g. flexibility and benefits) are increasing. In the current talent landscape, it's highly important that companies clearly communicate what they offer on their websites in order to attract talent.
Many Swedish companies don't include information about what they offer their employees in terms of flexibility, such as working from home or working completely remotely. Only 9% of the ranked companies include their approach to their employees working from home, which can be compared to 26% of the European companies. Last year, 4% of the companies had this information, so there has been a slight improvement, but not the one you could expect, considering flexible/hybrid working is now "the new normal" for many companies.
EQT is one of few Swedish companies that live up to jobseeker expectations when it comes to informing about flexible working options. They offer information about flexibility both in terms of flexible work schedules and working from home. EQT also show their support of remote working by offering an economic contribution to spend on improving employees' home office. This shows that they are a caring employer, which is something jobseekers appreciate.
Investor Relations is still a challenge
As for most countries, the Investor Relations information provided on the corporate websites of Swedish companies still doesn't meet stakeholder expectations, as it is on the same level as the previous years. The average performance is above the European average score of 25 points, the Swedish companies have gotten an average score of 33 points. Still, this is a low score, and companies need to present IR information directly on the website and not only in different PDF reports. The expectations of investors are certainly not getting lower, so the companies definitely need to improve to meet the expectations better.
Like last year, very few companies provide a financial or market outlook. Only 5% provide this (compared with the European average of 15%). Market and financial outlooks consist of forward-looking statements that should reflect the company's estimates for the short term, and in uncertain times like these, they are even more important.
TietoEvery is one of the few companies that provide financial outlooks, and it is appreciated that they publish several outlooks during the year. For example, they revised the outlook a few times this year and communicated this clearly. The archive of outlooks goes back to 2015, and they are all found on the same page, making it easy to compare.
“It is key to us to meet visitors' needs and expectations. To ensure they get a clear view of what we do, how we do it and why. For us, Webranking by Comprend is a good tool to continuously improve our web presence and get input on visitors' increasing demand on website content."
Jessica Alm, Executive Vice President and Head of Group Communications and Sustainability at Sandvik.
Swedish Matchhave been number one in Sweden for three consecutive years (2019-2020, 2020-2021 and 2021-2022), but this year, they come second. However, Swedish Match still got an impressive score of 81.6 points, just 0.5 points behind Sandvik. They perform well when it comes to presentingCorporate Governance,About usandShare-relatedinformation.
NCCare new on the podium and have climbed from fourth to third place. NCC have an informativeMedia section, offering useful information that journalists are looking for. They also provide usefulreporting information, including anonline summaryof the Annual Report.
We also see that some Swedish companies have put some extra effort into improving their corporate website and have improved their scores significantly.
Electrolux Professionalare the company that have improved the most, they have improved by 16 points. This has resulted in Electrolux Professional climbing from 45th to 12th place. Impressive!
Trelleborg have improved by 13.2 points, climbing from 28th to 8th place. Well done!
SEBhave improved by 11.4 points, climbing from 29th to 11th place. Good job!