Directions 05 A review of best in show of this years crop of CSR reports
Trends in CSR reporting 2004-2005
02 This year I have been driving a lot
04 Taking control
06 Addressing the crisis of trust in business
08 Reducing corporate hot air emissions
10 The OFR – compliance will not be enough
12 Top 100 UK companies by sector
13 The judging panel
14 The sectors
28 And the winners are
30 Global 100
36 About us
Trends in CSR reporting
Welcome to Directions 05, a review
A report by salterbaxter of the Best in Show of this year’s crop
of CSR reports.
The first 4 editions of Directions studiously avoided passing
judgement on the quality of CSR reporting in the top UK companies.
Nigel Salter, salterbaxter
This is because we felt the big issue, especially in the first couple
email@example.com of years, was how many companies were reporting, not how well
they were reporting.
All but a few of the major UK companies now report in some
way or other so this year we’re turning our attention to the issue
Yes most companies report – but is their Doug Johnston of Ernst & Young argues that
effort worth it and are they doing much more companies need to get to grips with their
than ticking boxes? non-financial controls on page 04 and Matt
Haddon of ERM looks into the crisis of trust
Some companies seem to think size matters, in business on page 06.
some go for completeness, some go for short
but sweet. So what actually works? Building on last year’s call in Directions to
‘Cut the fluff from CSR’, Martin Cutts, founder
To help us decide we have assembled a panel of the Plain Language Commission, gives a
of experts who will be giving out rosettes, guide to the challenges of writing about CSR
plaudits, pithy criticism and insight into the in good plain language on page 08.
state of reporting in all the FTSE 100
companies. The competition starts on page And, of course, this will be the year of the
12 but for those who always turn to the OFR which may see a substantial shake up
conclusion first, the prizes are awarded on in the way the top companies approach CSR
page 28. communications. See what your options are
on page 10.
As usual our review of the year also includes
thinking from other experts on some of the Finally, we move away from our shores and
main issues. cast our eye around the world to see what
the top 100 global companies have published.
The art of the Chief Executive’s statement
is illuminated by writer Simon Beavis on So all in all another fun-filled, fact-filled
page 02. Directions report. Enjoy!
01 DIRECTIONS 05
THIS YEAR I HAVE
By Simon Beavis
Founder of The Word Works BEEN DRIVING A LOT
ANY SUCCESSFUL CEO NEEDS TO GET OUT AND ABOUT. BUT,
TO JUDGE BY THE THINGS BRITAIN’S LEADING EXECUTIVES
SAY IN THEIR CORPORATE REPORTS, MOST SEEM TO BE
SPENDING JUST TOO MUCH TIME IN THEIR CARS.
CEOs, it appears, do a lot of ‘driving’. Companies are led by individuals, most of
It’s one of their favourite pastimes; next, that them highly valued for their particular skills.
is, to ‘delivering’. And some of them do both, How would it be if more of them wrote as
often in the same sentence. Reassuringly, individuals, using the same sorts of words they
most of them are determined to do these would use to describe any other important
activities ‘going forward’. Think of the chaos aspect of their lives – say, family, sport,
if it were otherwise. Africa or Mozart?
It’s easy to do parodies. To be fair, the world WOULD ANY OF THEM
of business – like any other – has its own
language, both formal and informal. Corporate
NORMALLY SAY: “GOING
reports are formal documents issued to meet FORWARD, I AM DETERMINED
a specific requirement. ‘High performance’ TO PLAY MORE TENNIS?”
vocabulary gets thrown in there to help
persuade, often sceptical, readers that the Communication is one of the most important
executive team is doing all the right things aspects of leadership. You can’t lead a highly
to guarantee success. complex organisation – employing tens of
thousands of people and answerable to an
The trouble is too many business leaders flock army of shareholders – effectively if you can’t
to the safety of common clichés and jargon to make yourself quickly and clearly understood.
do this. As a result, official reports become
samey and predictable. Far from being carried If you sift through the annual reports of
by the argument, readers find themselves leading companies you’ll notice that most
asking: ‘haven’t I read this somewhere before?’ CEOs and Chairmen shy away from everyday
language when talking about their work.
There is a way to stop this problem. You’ll be struck too by those who are brave
enough to break away from the grey uniformity
Let’s pose a simple question. If CEOs were to of business speak, and how effective it is
write an annual review of their leisure time when they do.
would they choose the same language? Would
it involve so much time at the steering wheel Let’s not get this out of perspective. Business
or on the tail gate of a truck? communications are undoubtedly improving.
Not so many years ago the documents foisted
It’s a much more important question than on the public were, almost without exception,
it sounds. utterly dreary. Few were really written for the
02____03 DIRECTIONS 5
reader; many appeared to have an altogether Here are three reasons why this
different target in mind, namely the waste- should change:
1. Words have real value, but
THEN A NEW FASHION they are rarely valued.
TOOK HOLD. EXECUTIVES Since a huge number of the words we read
everyday are produced either by companies or
STARTED TO PERK UP THEIR
by big public sector organisations, we deserve
OPERATIONAL REVIEWS, better. If these organisations are going to
BORROWING WORDS FROM dominate the written spaces of modern society
with reports, advertisements and brochures,
THE BUSINESS SCHOOL
it’s important that they use language well.
LEXICON INCLUDING MANY To do otherwise is arrogant.
IMPORTED FROM THE US.
2. The second is rather more
The fads of reporting were all too clear difficult to explain.
to see. One year it was fashionable to talk of Executives often seem to struggle most when
synergies; next year, everyone was busy talking about people. This is where the language
leveraging things left, right and centre; the tends to be most opaque, embarrassed and
following year, engagement was all the rage weak. Phrases like “we have a strong and
and everyone was absolutely passionate clearly articulated strategy to focus on the
about it. human performance aspect of our business”
will almost certainly leave the reader thinking
Used sparingly, these words are perfectly the strategy is neither strong, nor clearly
acceptable. Overused in familiar stock phrases, articulated and that the “human performance
they quickly become devalued. aspect” isn’t all it’s cracked up to be either.
This writing business is not easy and there
are legal constraints on what can and can’t
3. The third is specific to the
be said in corporate reports. But within these age we live in.
constraints, a simple truth still holds true – Companies are under pressure to disclose
the most powerful writing uses simple, plain more information than ever before. Corporate
language. Everyday language – used wherever Responsibility reporting is growing rapidly and,
possible – is invariably best. done effectively, demands plain talking based
on facts. Warmer words, with no hard evidence,
Yet in some parts of the business sphere, won’t do. The question “Can that statement
a misguided belief still persists that using really be justified?” needs to be asked
complicated, over-earnest and inward-looking constantly. It’s the first question the reader
language loaded with fashionable buzz- will be asking.
phrases lends seriousness.
In fact the opposite is true. More often than
not, jargon and clichés just make the reader –
whether specialist or non-specialist – tired.
They also invite mockery.
So, each reporting season, journalists have a
field day lampooning the mangled language of
CEOs. It’s great sport – though not yet quite The introduction next year of the operating
on a par with the annual Bad Sex in Fiction and financial review (OFR) will also swell the
Award (just one reminder that even the finest volume of words coming out of top companies.
professional writers are also capable of The idea of the OFR is to give shareholders the
dreadful writing). chance to assess the risks facing a business
and make a more informed judgement about
its true prospects. Companies should see this
as an opportunity not a threat. The danger is
that some will respond by lurching back into
jargon and legalistic language – more words,
That would be a real pity – greater openness
must be a good thing. It would also be
irresponsible, a step sure to inspire greater
public cynicism in companies at a time when
they can least afford it.
So perhaps an appropriate pledge for CEOs
this year would be: “Going forward, we will
drive changes in our communications strategy
to deliver greater openness in our stakeholder
Or, put more simply: “In future we are going
to describe what we do more clearly.”
By Doug Johnston
Head of Ernst & Young’s
Services in the UK
THERE IS NO POINT IN ISSUING A CSR REPORT OR A year ago, this publication called for
companies to cut the fluff from their
AN OFR SIMPLY TO BE SEEN TO BE DOING THE CSR reporting. It was a timely request.
RIGHT THING. COMPANIES NEED TO UNDERSTAND Stakeholders’ tolerance thresholds are
lowering dramatically all the time. Taking
THE BUSINESS CASE – AND THE BUSINESS control of the ways in which they identify,
BENEFITS – THAT FLOW FROM TAKING CONTROL gather and report key non-financial
information should become a priority for
OF THE NON-FINANCIAL INFORMATION THAT the management of UK companies. Those
THEY REPORT TO THE MARKET. that get it right will benefit from better
decision-making and better performance.
Various factors are driving companies to
reassess how and why they disclose their non-
financial performance. Uppermost amongst
these is encroaching regulatory pressure. The
UK’s Operating and Financial Review (OFR)
04____05 DIRECTIONS 05
Confident communication Evidently, the wind is blowing in just one
The importance of building this confidence – direction – and it is picking up speed. Directors
and the strategic edge it delivers – should not of UK companies need to understand that this
be underestimated. Now, with the regulatory is not a worthless box-ticking exercise. It is still
spotlight falling on the disclosure of non- early days and there is, as yet, no best practice
financial information, there are real lessons template to be adopted for the disclosure of
to be learned from the s404 experience. The non-financial information. That said, there are
OFR is a fact of life. Directors of UK quoted certain fundamental issues to bear in mind.
companies have to report on non-financial The OFR helps to provide a framework by
business issues and – if this process is to stressing the need for ‘relevant’ information
deliver sustainable value to their businesses, to be included. Accordingly, before putting
instead of undermining their reputation – they these controls in place, companies need to
need to develop much greater confidence in identify what information is relevant to their
the clarity and integrity of this information. stakeholders – and what is not – with the
investment in controls being directed at the
PUT BLUNTLY, THE QUESTION information that is deemed most relevant.
As experience has already shown, readers of
HAS TO BE: “WHY DISCLOSE CSR reports quickly become disengaged, if
SOMETHING IF YOU’RE NOT not cynical, when they are expected to wade
SURE YOU CAN BELIEVE IN IT through fluffy non-core information.
YOURSELF?” Arriving at an assessment of the relevance
of this information is not a scientific process,
Nor is it just the OFR’s arrival that adds but certain key indicators will prove helpful.
urgency to this issue. There is a much wider Common sense judgements are called for: for
appreciation that non-financial issues example, a relevant issue might well be the
underpin sustainable business performance subject of questions at the AGM; alternatively,
and, therefore, an increased desire to have it might have affected the share value/revenue/
appropriate performance management and reputation of a peer organisation, or already
reporting frameworks which allow progress be occupying significant management time.
in non-financial performance to be tracked.
Other developments clearly signpost the Accurate, balanced and relevant
need for companies to overhaul their internal
controls – and their disclosure mindsets. The
ONCE THE KEY NON-
recently-published Flint Review stressed the FINANCIAL ISSUES HAVE
need for companies’ Turnbull statements to BEEN IDENTIFIED, COMPANIES
contain assurances that annual reviews of
controls environments have been performed,
SHOULD START TO PUT IN
now obliges UK quoted companies to report benchmarked against the key risks facing each PLACE CONTROLS ENABLING
on a broad range of relevant non-financial organisation. The intention is to encourage INFORMATION AROUND THESE
business issues. Crucially, directors have to cross-fertilisation between the OFR and the
sign off on the OFR. At the same time, identification, control and monitoring of
ISSUES TO BE IDENTIFIED,
companies have become increasingly alert to business risks, as well as clear, confident MONITORED AND CONTROLLED
the ways in which non-financial issues impact market communication. ON A REGULAR BASIS.
on their core business, affecting everything
from employee retention to building trust The OFR talks about making statements
and safeguarding reputation. balanced and comparable over time.
Stakeholders want more than random
To date, limited investment in the controls snapshots – they want to know that a
needed to provide confidence in non-financial sustainable controls environment is in place.
information means that the quality of this
information has varied from reasonable to poor. Three imperatives should provide the
Understandably, in the post-Enron era, the foundation for this process – keep it accurate,
emphasis has instead been on building robust keep it balanced and keep it relevant.
financial controls. This trend has been most Once management is confident that the
acute for SEC-registered companies, forced by organisation’s controls environment delivers
s404 of the Sarbanes-Oxley Act to evaluate BETTER on all three counts, it can have confidence in
the effectiveness of internal controls over
all the financial information they report to CONTROLS the information it is feeding to stakeholders.
S404 compliance was a major undertaking,
= Don’t replace fluff with puff.
According to Directions 2004, 145 of the
consuming resources and management
BETTER UK’s 250 largest companies produced a CSR
report last year. This is obviously positive.
attention and it is clear that, as a result, a DECISIONS However, if, as many of these companies
number of financial control issues have come profess, CSR matters are integral to business
out of the woodwork: poor standards of
documentation and evidence, underdeveloped
+ performance, why are so many of these
companies prepared to disclose information in
reporting routines and systems and a lack BETTER which they can surely have little confidence?
of focus on traditional financial internal
controls are just three noteworthy issues.
Companies need to start focusing on their
If this is the case for financial controls that controls. After all, there’s little point
stakeholders may previously have perceived replacing fluff with puff.
as robust, what lessons can be learned
from the experience of these companies
to ensure stakeholder confidence in non-
ADDRESSING THE CRISIS
By Matt Haddon
Partner in the international
consultancy ERM. He was a core
OF TRUST IN BUSINESS
member of the World Business
Council for Sustainable
Development (WBCSD) team THE CRISIS OF TRUST IN BUSINESS IS IMPOSSIBLE
which developed ‘Beyond
reporting: Creating business TO IGNORE. ACROSS 20 COUNTRIES SURVEYED BY
value and accountability’, of
which this article is an extract.
GLOBESCAN AT THE END OF 2003, NON-GOVERNMENTAL
The full report can be found at
ORGANISATIONS (NGOS) WERE ONCE AGAIN THE MOST
www.wbcsd.ch TRUSTED AND GLOBAL COMPANIES THE LEAST. THE
NAMES OF SOME BUSINESS PEOPLE ARE NOW INDELIBLY
LINKED WITH CORPORATE WRONGDOING.
06____07 DIRECTIONS 05
to check the numbers before going to print, being open about technology and product
the ‘reporter’ develops a sophisticated view of development with society, politicians,
what’s in place to implement non-financial authorities, NGOs, customers and investors.
policies and uses external assurance exercises Increasingly it is focusing on engagement
that provide confidence to the Board that the through stakeholder round-tables and has been
organisation is walking its talk. able to learn from the public policy debate
IN SHORT, NON-FINANCIAL
Or Australian bank Westpac, which has
REPORTS WERE IN DANGER OF been rebuilding its reputation since
BEING PERCEIVED AS LARGELY suffering financial problems in the early
PERIPHERAL AND MOST 1990s against a backdrop of unprecedented
consumer pressure over branch closures,
BUSINESS PEOPLE (AND IF lack of transparency and bank charges.
THEY WERE HONEST, MANY A new chairman provided the leadership to
SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT differentiate the bank by emphasising the
employee/customer interface. And its corporate
(SD) AND CR PROFESSIONALS) responsibility team engaged the business to
KNEW THEY DID LITTLE TO devise a straightforward approach through
HOLD THEM TO ACCOUNT. disarmingly simple and well communicated
internal programmes such as (the customer
After working with more than 60 companies should only have to) ‘Ask Once’ and ‘Do the
and a series of professional commentators Right Thing’.
from AccountAbility to the OECD, the WBCSD
project found that businesses and the people SD or CR champions have a vital role to play
within them are entirely comfortable with being in co-ordinating or catalysing change. But
held to account. What was equally clear was they need to approach each business function
that the traditional view of what businesses with a very open mind. Individual functions
Yet how can this be, comes the cry? should be accountable for, and to whom, is (e.g. ethics, diversity, community relations) are
Surely the sustainability/corporate failing to equip corporations with the tools often wrestling with problems that they do
responsibility/environment/‘jolly good egg’ they need to survive and prosper in a highly not see as ‘sustainability’, but these are
reports that corporations have been dutifully connected stakeholder age. probably the sustainability issues that really
producing were enough to convince sceptics do matter for the business.
that their hearts were in the right places? These concerns are now reaching the
mainstream and new corporate governance So how can reporting organisations get more
Clearly, the answer is no… requirements explicitly ask for a forward- business value from reporting, and at the same
looking approach. For example, the UK time move more firmly to rebuild trust? Of
The World Business Council for Sustainable government’s proposals for Operating and course, there is no silver bullet, no single
Development (WBCSD) recently reached Financial Reviews call on companies to report answer that will light up the eyes of either the
a staging-point in a two-year project to on how management of non-financial issues CEO or the NGOs. But there is a lot to aim at.
understand how businesses can better may impact the business going forward.
frame, discharge – and report on – their The WBCSD project identified five
‘accountabilities’. The title of its conclusions And here lies an additional challenge. To have fundamentals for creating value from
provides part of the answer: ‘Beyond sufficient confidence to provide this forward- accountability and non-financial
Reporting’. looking view of what will really affect the reporting:
success of the business, companies need broad,
IN HINDSIGHT IT SEEMS robust reporting and assurance processes. • Understand what drives value in your
A compliance-driven response is limited in its business;
CRAZY THAT SO MANY • Recognise that different people are
ability to identify issues that may destroy or
COMPANIES APPEARED HAPPY create value. accountable for different things;
TO SEE PRODUCTION OF A • Connect the functions that drive the
WOULD SARBANES-OXLEY value drivers;
STANDALONE CORPORATE • Leverage the effort that is going into
RESPONSIBILITY REPORT REALLY HELP A FOOD straightforward compliance; and
AS ‘ENOUGH’. MANUFACTURER UNDERSTAND • Tell people what you think
THAT THE FUTURE OF ITS accountability means for you.
Yet only recently have leading reporting
organisations moved from once a year ‘report
BUSINESS WOULD BE DEFINED It boils down to one simple idea: let go of the
production’ to embedded non-financial BY OBESITY? CR and reporting agenda – and help others in
‘reporting’. your organisation find their own solutions.
Sadly, and despite the millions of dollars
The difference is subtle, yet crucial. While the spent, the answer is likely to be no.
‘report producer’ often had to skirt around
sensitive topics (such as how does diversity The WBCSD project highlighted a number of
really affect a professional services firm?), cases where companies are beginning to
the ‘reporter’ engages with different business create value in their business.
units and functions to help them to identify
material issues for themselves. While the Take Denmark-based Novozymes, which
‘report producer’ used annual emails to gather believes that a broader view of accountability
data to tick the boxes of a checklist, the offers the potential to learn from
‘reporter’ taps into underlying business stakeholders, not just communicate to
information that their colleagues use to them. To retain its licence to operate in the
manage material issues day-to-day. And controversial world of industrial enzymes,
while the ‘report producer’ found a verifier Novozymes recognises the importance of
By Martin Cutts
Founder of Plain Language
HOT AIR EMISSIONS
PRACTICAL STEPS TOWARDS PLAINER LANGUAGE
IN CORPORATE REPORTS
It’s my childhood’s fault. As a boy there used of the failure to explain insider jargon Worse still are the backslappings that pepper
to be milk churns awaiting collection next to to readers, and an example of the fluff so many chairman’s messages: ‘Our corporate
rural railway lines. So I’m already thinking that Directions has been bemoaning in responsibility programme has been overseen
lactation, mastitis, woolliness and fluff when recent issues. by our Corporate Responsibility Advisory Task
I delve into the XYZ annual report: Force, under Simon Wallaby’s inspiring and
SOME CSR REPORTS AND OFRS pulsating leadership.’
• ‘One of the lowest rates of churn in the ARE EXEMPLARY BUT OTHERS
world demonstrates the customer loyalty
generated by our high-quality products.’ ARE SO FLATULENT THEY
COULD POWER A WIND FARM.
• ‘Maintaining churn at a low rate is a key
component of maximising the return One says:
we make on our investment in customer
acquisition.’ ‘Demonstrating the many beneficial ways
mobile telephony is being used in wider
And then in huge letters, So It Must Be society is a positive way we can demonstrate
A Good Thing: the social use of this technology.’
• ‘9.7% Our rate of churn.’ Prick this gassy bubble and perhaps it
Maybe I’m the only person reading company
reports who doesn’t know what a non-milk ‘Mobile is being used in many socially
churn is or who has to look up ‘dosimetry’ beneficial ways, and we need to keep
and ‘epidemiology’, but to me it’s typical demonstrating this.’
08____09 DIRECTIONS 05
Neither the readers nor – probably – statements’. And instead of ‘As a consequence
Mr Wallaby need such exaggerated praise. of declining revenues over the past three years,
When he wins the office sweepstake, actions have been taken at both Cox and the
there’ll be no superlatives left. Dibble Group to reduce the operating cost
base’, we can say ‘Declining revenues in the
AS LUCY KELLAWAY HAS last three years have led Cox and the Dibble
Group to reduce operating costs’. That’s more
POINTED OUT IN THE FT, than a third shorter.
BUZZWORDS LIKE ‘PASSION’ Often it’s better to replace abstract nouns
with verbs. For example ‘a flexible approach to
EVERYWHERE – SHE COUNTED the resolution of risks’ means ‘a flexible
379 PASSIONS ON GENERAL approach to resolving risks’, while ‘in addition
ELECTRIC’S WEBSITE. to the collection and redistribution of reports’
means ‘as well as collecting and redistributing
She awarded a prize for cant to the Bank reports’. Chestnuts like ‘we are in receipt of’
of America’s CEO, Kenneth D Lewis, for and ‘on a regular basis’ can be written simply
pronouncing, ‘The reason Bank of America as ‘we receive’ and ‘regularly’ respectively.
is in business is to help make communities
stronger and to help people achieve their Plain-language authors and editors use a
dreams.’ Kellaway says this ‘offends against rather fluid set of guidelines because each
sincerity, it is not truthful, and it is document is different. The guidelines include:
People think plain language is about using
short words and short sentences, and indeed
these are part of the story. But even more
important is saying the right things and HELP ME. IF THIS IS ENGLISH,
keeping to the essentials. Readers haven’t
time for fluff. This means excising what John I NEED A DOCTOR TO EXPLAIN • Keep sentences short and simple.
Cleese called ‘statements of the bleedin’ WHY I’M SUDDENLY ILLITERATE. • Prefer verbs to abstract nouns,
obvious’ like these: because they are easier and livelier
We all welcome headings as resting places to read.
• ‘Pre-pay customers pay in advance for where we can stop, regroup and skim. But the • Where possible, prefer active to
their usage...’. headings in many reports leave you ignorant passive verbs.
of what’s to come, like these:
• Avoid pomposity, verbosity,
Now who’d ever have thought that? You
• ‘Debtor recoverability’
archaisms and official jargon.
mean pre-pay means paying in advance?
Come on. This sounds like they go hunting for missing • Organise the contents in a logical
debtors and returning them to their grateful framework.
• ‘Business planning is an important process families like lost dogs. The text that follows • Make the type highly legible and
within the Group and is a key ingredient in is scarcely more enlightening: ‘... we maintain the layout attractive.
delivering the long term objectives of the provisions for doubtful debts for estimated
business. It is central to the delivery of the losses that result from the inability of a
corporate objectives...’. portion of our customers to make required
payments.’ Why can’t we start this with
Now this really is extraordinary: a multi-billion some normal English like, ‘Some of our
pound group actually planning before it customers don’t pay up, so...’.
does things. This whole idea could catch on.
The public must be informed immediately. • ‘Customer performance’
Is this about how customers are performing?
Even when readers have been told what No, you silly boy, that’s what the words say
EBITDA and GAAP are, it’s a good idea not but not what they mean – it’s about how
to befuddle them with stuff like this: the company is performing towards its
customers. It’s just a new wrapper for that
‘As EBITDA is not a measure of financial old 20th-century idea, ‘customer service’.
performance under UK GAAP, it may not be
comparable to similarly titled measures of • ‘Revenue recognition’
other companies because EBITDA is not Maybe this means being able to recognise a
uniformly defined.’ cheque among the junk mail, but somehow
I doubt it.
Which manages the rare feat of being a
double-because and a triple-negative • ‘Mast site restoration provisions’
sentence, a combination guaranteed to Probably this means ‘Restoring mast sites to At Plain Language Commission we
defeat most people. The paragraph goes on: their original condition’. To make headings specialise in converting the sow’s ear of
meaningful, they often need unpacking corporate prose into the silk purse of plain
‘EBITDA should not be considered by and lengthening. language through editing and training.
investors as an alternative to group Many of the documents we edit display the
operating profit or loss or profit or loss on Reports also need more active-voice verbs. Clear English Standard to show they’ve
ordinary activities before taxation as an So instead of ‘This commentary should passed our checks of clarity, structure
indication of operating performance, or as be read in conjunction with those financial and layout. More than 10,500 documents
an alternative to cash flow from operating statements’, we can say ‘Please read carry the logo, and it’s good that more and
activities as an indication of cash flows.’ this commentary alongside the financial more company reports are seeking it.
By Nigel Salter
COMPLIANCE WILL NOT BE ENOUGH
WHY LISTED COMPANIES THAT JUST TICK THE BOXES WHEN RESPONDING
TO THE NEW OFR REGULATIONS WILL NOT GET THE BENEFITS THAT THE
NEW APPROACH HAS TO OFFER.
Many companies are already groaning about businesses and their investors, companies the end of the standard review section and
the amount of work required to comply with are going to have to rethink their approach to not change much else – obviously not what
the new OFR guidelines. reporting in lots of ways. we’d advise. You could roll the Chief Executive’s
review, the Financial review and the CSR
But, unfortunately for those companies, Here are some of the options to consider: content all together under a new banner of an
simply aiming for compliance is to miss the OFR. Or you could completely rethink the
point of the OFR. To get any real benefit from A) Where does the OFR go? report and start from first principles about
the changes they are going to need to go This is probably the most important question what the OFR is aiming to achieve. This might
beyond mere compliance. as the answer probably then informs all your lead to a new structure altogether and might
other options. To over-simplify a bit, if you actually make reporting a bit easier in future –
The government has adopted a flexible decide that the OFR is a part of the Finance and this is what the forward thinking
framework (in consultation with the business Director’s report or should sit alongside the companies will be doing.
sector) in order to avoid companies simply Remuneration report in the ‘back’ (ie purely
ticking the boxes and producing boilerplate statutory) section of the annual report then
copy. The objective is to provide better you’re probably just going to be ticking the
BUT THE CHALLENGE IS
information, not more information. So the boxes. This is what happened to the US NOT JUST WHAT STRUCTURE
trade off for the flexibility that has been built equivalent ‘Management Discussion and YOU CHOOSE. IT’S HOW YOU
into the regulations is that the onus is very Analysis’ and rather than being enlightening
much on businesses to view the OFR it became a bit like reading the small print in
GO ABOUT PUTTING THE
as an opportunity for better disclosure a sales contract. INFORMATION ACROSS…
rather than an excuse for publishing more
turgid guff. If, on the other hand, you see the OFR as B) Illuminate or obfuscate?
sitting in the ‘front’ section of the report and The type of information being asked for in the
And there should also be an element of being owned by the Chief Executive then you OFR is, at first sight, quite technical and could
enlightened self-interest in all of this. have more of a challenge and more choice. easily, if left to just the accountants and
To make the new format work for their You could simply stick a box ticking OFR at lawyers, become unreadable.
10____11 DIRECTIONS 05
THERE ARE ALREADY SOME ‘Our strategy is straightforward C) ‘Does the OFR mean that we can stop
publishing a separate CSR report?’
EXAMPLES OF ENTIRELY Fix it The answer should be no for all those
COMPLIANT BUT ENTIRELY We are two-thirds of the way through the companies wanting to take disclosure
DULL OFRS. Fast Forward programme which is aimed at seriously.
transforming our core business.
This is where we think the companies that are It may mean that the CSR report can be
willing to go the extra mile will gain the most. Strengthen it shortened or that more information can
Good writing will make all the difference. We have to keep ahead of the competition by move onto the web, reducing the need for
constantly improving our customer offering. the lengthy printed report but the CSR
Take the following example of where we can We are developing our newer businesses and information required in the OFR will almost
see problems (and therefore opportunities). positioning to exploit rapid growth in certainly be different in substance and tone
electronic trading. from that published in the CSR report.
Describing the company strategy: This is
tougher than many might imagine and is an Grow it Some companies will undoubtedly use the
integral part of the new OFR. Having a company Our relentless focus on the fundamentals OFR as a get-out. But not those that see their
strategy is one thing but having one that makes means that we can now also begin to look communications as more than just a
sense to the outside world and that you’re ahead: where will our future growth come regulatory burden.
comfortable publishing in the annual report is from? We are identifying and investing in
quite another. Contrast these two examples… opportunities in new areas and building on Of course, all of these points are put forward
our single biggest asset – our strong brand.’ in the hope that listed companies will see
A few years ago, a utility company described the potential of the OFR and will approach it
its strategy like this (unnamed for obvious Hallelujah! positively. There is, however, a real risk that
reasons)… ‘Through its unique combination of the box ticking approach will prevail because
skill and experience, Xco provides a range of The challenge will be the same for sections even this could involve a lot of hard work.
infrastructure support services to the utility, such as the nature of the business and But companies will surely want to make the
transport and public sector markets. Xco its objectives, business risks and future hard work worthwhile.
applies its expertise to infrastructures ranging prospects – all likely areas for obfuscation
from managing PFIs to building new hospitals, and corporate fog. Compliance will be enough from a legal
managing public housing stock to pipeline perspective. But is that really enough for
networks.’ your company’s shareholders and
WE WOULD RECOMMEND stakeholders?
… hello?! YOU HAVE THE OFR WRITTEN
BY AN EXPERT IN WRITING
Reuters (admittedly a salterbaxter client)
describes its strategy in its latest annual RATHER THAN AN EXPERT
report like this: IN YOUR BUSINESS.
So this year Directions is baring its teeth.
Top 100 UK
companies A key to our approach in the first 4 editions of Directions was to try
to simply record what the largest companies were publishing in
by sector terms of CSR communications – no judgement and no commentary.
Things have moved quickly. In 2000 just under 50% of the top 250
UK companies could be classified as ‘reporters’. Last year there
were only 44 companies without any substantial CSR disclosure
and only 17 of the FTSE 100 could be described as non-reporters.
So it seemed to us that the issue is no longer how many companies
report. We think the focus should now be on how good and how
worthwhile the reporting of the top companies is.
So we’ve decided to assess the effectiveness of CSR reporting in
the UK. And in order to do this we’ve put together a crack panel of
experts who are willing to offer praise when praise is deserved but
also happy to tell it straight when it appears that a company really
is either wasting its time or publishing fluff.
We set a couple of ground rules but otherwise we felt it was
important that each individual should be able to express his or her
own views in the way that they saw fit. So we are not pretending
that this is a scientific, quantitative benchmarking exercise. It is a
sector by sector review by experts with insight and the ability to
spot what’s good and what’s not.
1. The assessements should be based on information on company
The rules websites or in public reports available up to and including
19 August 2005.
2. The reviewers are encouraged to make full use of irony
3. The reviewer’s decision is final (but you’re more than welcome
to contact us if you feel your company has been treated harshly).
4. Size isn’t everything.
5. Don’t take it too seriously.
So please read on to see which companies win the wooden
spoons, which receive special judges’ commendations and
which are best in show…
12____13 DIRECTIONS 05
Please note the panellists’ views are their own personal views and
The judging not necessarily those of their organisations. The SRI analysts’
panel views are not recommendations or investment advice. We’d also
like to apologise to any of our clients who don’t win! We hope
this proves that the judges are entirely independent.
Simon Abrams Senior Analyst, Jupiter Richard Aldwinckle CR Consultant Roger Cowe Director, Context
SRI and Governance team Richard is a London-based corporate Roger is a director of the corporate
Simon is responsible for the strategic responsibility consultant specialising in responsibility consultancy Context, which
analysis of companies’ corporate communications, stakeholder dialogue, social he joined after a career in journalism which
responsibility performance. Prior to joining investment, and development issues. He has included 12 years on the business staff of
Jupiter, Simon was responsible for managing worked with many leading European, US and The Guardian. From the late 1990s Roger
the Business in the Environment Index of Japanese companies on CR strategies and specialised in corporate responsibility,
Corporate Environmental Engagement. programmes. He also writes speeches and contributing to publications including the
Simon is a judge on the ACCA awards for articles on CR. Financial Times and The Observer. He also
Sustainability Reporting. wrote reports for organisations ranging
from the Association of British Insurers to
Forum for the Future.
Melissa Gamble SRI Research Analyst, Matt Haddon Partner, ERM Douglas Johnston Director,
Morley Fund Management Matt is a Partner in international consultancy Ernst & Young LLP
Melissa is a Senior Analyst on the Socially ERM. He works with a number of blue chip Doug leads Ernst & Young’s Corporate
Responsible Investment (SRI) Team at Morley, corporate clients to develop cutting edge Responsibility Services team in the UK.
the fund management arm of the Aviva Group. non-financial reporting and assurance He has represented Ernst & Young in leading
Her role is to cut through the ‘greenwash’ programmes, and was a core team member several discussion groups on the future of
and find stocks which are set to outperform of the World Business Council for Sustainable non-financial reporting. Doug directs non-
by identifying social, environmental and Development (WBCSD) Accountability and financial reporting and assurance projects
governance issues that have an impact on Reporting working group. for Ernst & Young – working with some of
a company’s profitability but are generally the world’s leading non-financial reporters.
under-analysed or mispriced by the market.
Peter Mason Editor and co-founder of Emily Osband Director, CR Futures Nigel Salter Director, salterbaxter
Ethical Performance Emily is a corporate responsibility Nigel is a communications consultant and
A journalist for more than 20 years, Peter communications consultant. She has ten managing director of salterbaxter. He has
has written on various subjects for a number years experience in this field and recently been working in the corporate reporting
of national newspapers and magazines, and set up CR Futures – a new forward thinking field for 12 years, advising major UK and
has been a staff member on the foreign CR consultancy. She specialises in writing European companies on financial and CSR
desk of The Guardian. He is also the author CR reports and other CR communications reporting and branding.
of five books. such as intranet sites, brochures and annual
reports. Emily also advises companies on
CR policy and strategy.
Aerospace & defence page 14 Media & entertainment page 21
The sectors Banks page 15 Mining page 22
Beverages page 16 Oil & gas page 23
Chemicals page 17 Personal care & household
products page 23
Construction & building materials page 17
Real estate page 24
Electricity page 18
Software & computer services page 24
Food & drug retailers page 18
Speciality & other finance page 25
Food producers & processors page 19
Support services page 25
General retailers page 19
Telecommunication services page 26
Health, pharmaceuticals & biotechnology
page 20 Tobacco page 26
Leisure & hotels page 20 Transport page 27
Life assurance & insurance page 21 Utilities page 27
FTSE 100 list taken from the
Financial Times, Friday 1 July 2005
+ Worthy of note
In this sector BAE Systems stands out since In contrast, BAE Systems has two pages on
AEROSPACE & DEFENCE: it’s the only company that has a full CR report. its ethics programme and includes data on
Smiths Group and Rolls-Royce touch on CR calls to the ethics hotline. There is a frank
issues in their annual reports/websites, but admission that the number of calls they
BAE Systems their formal reports only cover environment, received is low for a company their size and
Rolls-Royce health and safety issues. Rolls-Royce also has that they need to address this.
Smiths Group a community report. I was surprised to see
that Rolls-Royce came 10th in the Business in BAE Systems’ CR report is clear and concise
the Community CR Index despite its lack of – a good length at 30 pages. It seems to cover
PANELLIST: public disclosure on CR issues. the key issues and includes data. My main
Emily Osband criticism is that it lacks challenging targets.
CR is obviously a tricky subject for defence
companies. A comment at the beginning of All three companies report comprehensively
BAE’s report acknowledges the controversial on environment, health and safety. I was
nature of their products: ‘No matter how impressed to see that all the companies have
necessary, the manufacture and sale of ISO 14001 certification at nearly all their major
equipment that is designed to kill inevitably manufacturing sites. Smiths Group and Rolls-
evokes strong feelings’. This, combined with Royce have quantitative targets – something
the inclusion of some quotes that are critical absent from the BAE Systems report.
of BAE, gives the impression that the company However, I was disappointed to see very little
is open and listens to its stakeholders. The about the efficiency and design of aircraft
report also devotes two pages to an interesting engines – a pressing issue for the sector given
debate between BAE and the British American the increase in air travel and its impact on
Security Information Council on whether the climate change.
defence industry really benefits the economy.
One of the most important issues for the
sector is business ethics, in particular bribery and the winner is...
and corruption. Rolls-Royce says nothing BAE SYSTEMS
about this. Smiths publish their Code of
Business Ethics but give no further details.
14____15 DIRECTIONS 05
The banking sector covers a very broad Transparency International to develop group
BANKS: spectrum of institutions from the regional wide policy on this and that it expects the
Northern Rock to the global HSBC and the highest standards of itself and its suppliers.
range and quality of their CR reporting is Again, a bit more context wouldn’t have gone
Alliance & Leicester equally diverse, from Northern Rock’s amiss. With HSBC and RBS both investing in
Barclays extremely basic on-line, design-free offering, Chinese banks, it will be interesting to see how
HBOS to the 66 pages from RBS. As ever, size is no human rights, transparency, bribery and
HSBC guarantee of quality. It seems the larger the corruption will be tackled in next year’s reports.
Lloyds TSB report, the more densely packed it is, not Several reports read more like corporate
necessarily with more data but more verbiage, brochures; lists of highlights refer to awards
Northern Rock especially of the “we need to build long term won, league tables entered and even, in the
Royal Bank of Scotland relationships based on mutual knowledge case of Alliance and Leicester, the number
Standard Chartered and trust” variety. of product “best buy” mentions in the press.
No modesty, false or otherwise, in this sector!
The banking sector has got more issues than Most reports seem aimed at the committed
PANELLIST: you can shake a stick at – off-shoring, financial CR ‘wonk’, except for Lloyds TSB, which has
Richard Aldwinckle exclusion, consumer debt, ethical investment, produced a colourful report that is clearly
pensions mis-selling, responsible lending, aimed at a more general audience. A series
money-laundering, bribery and corruption, of simply written stories and paragraphs
to name just a few. make for easy reading but a rather busy
design distracts rather than leads the eye.
+ HSBC does a good job of setting out what
are the key issues for each of its divisions HSBC’s and RBS’s reports are both terribly
up front. Some reports tackle them by text heavy, although with a crisp writing style,
stakeholder; others mention them almost in warm tone of voice and generous spacing
passing if at all. Most explain what the banks between sentences, HSBC just about holds
have put in place to address issues, rather your attention. RBS’s report, on the other
than how well they are tackling them, or hand, has such dense text and such a small
where there have been breaches. As well as typeface that you have to be pretty committed
lack of detail, there is often lack of context. to stick with it to the end.
For example, Barclays baldly states it is staying
in Zimbabwe for the sake of its employees My pick of the crop is Standard Chartered.
and customers, but doesn’t attempt to put After the now obligatory letters from the
this into the context of its experience in Chairman and CEO, it gets straight into a
South Africa, who it consulted on this or description of the business and then a piece
how it came to make this decision. on stakeholder dialogue. In the brisk and
efficient style that it uses throughout the
On human rights, HSBC merely states it report, it says how stakeholders are engaged,
operates in countries accused of breaching what they said, what their response is and
human rights, that it has worked with how stakeholder engagement will be improved
in future. This written clarity is matched by a
simple, predominantly two-colour design that
helps break up the copy into manageable
chunks without being too fussy. Each section
contains well-signposted topics, with
summaries of highlights and future actions in
boxes alongside. Simple graphics make it easy
for the reader who wants to take in a subject
at a glance; sensible amounts of text provide
the detail for the more serious reader. An
excellent way of dealing with the differing
needs of different audiences and varying
levels of interest.
and the winner is...
All four of the beverages companies in this Allied Domecq and SAB Miller also do a good
BEVERAGES: review recognise that ‘responsible drinking’ job of identifying that CR issues are crucial to
is the most important issue facing the sector. the management of business risk. For example,
All acknowledge they have an active role SAB highlights the link between water
Allied Domecq to play in managing it – and to a greater or consumption and business costs and its efforts
Diageo lesser extent their reporting reflects this. to reduce risk by working with local suppliers.
SAB Miller And both SAB Miller and Diageo shine in their
Scottish & Newcastle Allied Domecq leads the pack in producing a use of benchmarking to give context for their
report that reflects the reality of the business, own achievements, helping give the reader a
not just the aspirations of the CR department. sense of whether their performance is good
PANELLIST: It demonstrates that accountability for key in the bigger scheme of things.
Matt Haddon non-financial issues is embedded across the
business and acknowledges that the company The main challenge that all these companies
doesn’t yet have all the answers. struggle with lies in explaining why they
report in the first place and, with the
+ SAB Miller is not far behind and showcases exception of Diageo, who they are reporting
what CR really means for one of its to. What business value do they get from this
operations. Diageo shows courage in annual rigmarole?
recognising the boundaries of its influence
and focusing on the material issues the Or is it all about increasing transparency and
business can affect, measuring progress building trust? If this is the case then the
through innovations such as marketers’ community sections of most reports could do
performance assessments. S&N acknowledges more to really explain how they are tackling
the need for CR to be owned by everyone, alcohol related challenges there.
although we don’t get to see much evidence.
Another gap across the board is demonstrating
how the reported issues link to those identified
by the company’s own risk management
processes, to give us confidence that there
are effective processes in place to manage
the next issue coming round the corner.
and the winner is...
See also special award on page 29.
16____17 DIRECTIONS 05
The chemicals sector provides a range of This year, in particular, chemicals companies
CHEMICALS: solutions and challenges for sustainability were affected by high input costs as the oil
with some products providing environmental price rose to all time highs and on top of
benefits, and others creating problems. that, emissions trading and the rising cost of
BOC The growth of the hydrogen market is being carbon affected energy prices. This had the
ICI driven by environmental legislation to reduce biggest impact on high energy users such as
Johnson Matthey sulphur emissions from oil refineries and BOC, and provided greater incentives to
petrol. Johnson Matthey is a key beneficiary companies across the sector to improve their
of automotive emissions regulations and energy efficiency. BOC still provides little in the
PANELLIST: many of their products have positive social way of quantitative data and historical records
Melissa Gamble and environmental benefits. They make strong on their energy performance. Improved data
commitments in their reporting to continue in this area would assist in tracking efficiency
to invest in R&D to develop new products improvements. Johnson Matthey’s energy
such as fuel cells. and water use seems to be increasing.
Generally speaking, chemicals companies are + It’s great to see Johnson Matthey and
heavily regulated by safety legislation and + BOC including CSR information as part of
have been good at reporting their impacts their annual report and accounts. This
accordingly. In Europe, the introduction of the demonstrates joined up thinking on reporting
REACH proposal, aimed at investigating the to investors on CSR and financial matters,
alleged link between chemicals and health, thereby bringing these issues into the
represents a substantial overhaul of EU mainstream. Little reference is made to
Chemicals regulation. Its basis is to shift product safety litigation by BOC in their report,
responsibility of higher safety testing and despite being subject to injury claims based on
data provisioning standards onto the industry. allegations that manganese in welding fumes
It would therefore be good to see CR reporting causes Parkinson’s disease. If this claim is
of hazardous substances data broken down proven it would have a significant financial
to specific product areas to give a clearer idea and reputational impact on the company and
of each company’s exposure to safety risks more could be done to reassure stakeholders
and other liabilities that may be associated about this issue.
with the introduction of REACH. At present
companies only provide aggregated hazardous
waste information, except for ICI who provide
the most detailed disclosure in this area. and the winner is...
Most comprehensive coverage of
CSR issues in the chemicals sector
– excellent quantitative data and
targets for improvement in place.
In general, FTSE 100 companies in the There is also a worrying reliance on bland
CONSTRUCTION & construction sector have had some catching motherhood-and-apple pie statements
BUILDING MATERIALS: up to do when it comes to sustainability delivered with no back up. Hanson says, for
reporting – and though they at least now give instance, that it has ‘a fair and competitive
corporate responsibility due prominence on remuneration and benefits policy everywhere
BPB their websites, you’d be hard pressed to say we operate’, yet provides no tangible evidence
Hanson they’ve done anything more than move up to – such as its rates of pay and how they
Wolseley the back of the chasing pack. compare to the rest of the sector – to back
up the assertion.
Unsurprisingly, given the nature of their
PANELLIST: business, health, safety and environment Sustainable procurement, which could be one
Peter Mason topics are still the main focus of reporting of the sector’s most significant future inputs
efforts. But even in those areas – which on corporate responsibility, merits hardly a
lend themselves quite easily to statistical word anywhere.
quantification – there is a disappointing lack
of hard data. On the plus side, all three companies make
sure their reporting on corporate responsibility
In the more tricky areas of community and is nothing more than a couple of clicks away
social impact there is even less to get the teeth from their home page – and what they do
into. This is compounded by a general lack of present is well written, brief and accessible.
specific, measurable targets for improvement. Not cutting edge by any stretch of the
Those targets that are set tend to be put in imagination, but there is at least a sense of
unhelpfully vague terms, such as BPB’s forward movement, with Hanson making the
objective to ‘realise the potential of our people’. best fist of things.
Rarely is any time span connected with such
pledges, making them even looser and, frankly,
hardly worth the paper they are written on.
and the winner is...
All of these companies provide information environmental sustainability aspects of
ELECTRICITY: on their non-financial activities – Scottish business performance, though provides some
Power and Scottish and Southern produce useful insights on customer issues such as
stand-alone reports and International Power fuel poverty and energy efficiency.
International Power provide information on the web and as part
Scottish and Southern Energy of the annual report and accounts. This is a My favourite of these reports is the Scottish
Scottish Power sector that has a long history of reporting Power report – it basically told me exactly
and there are some really good sections in what I wanted to hear. Each section told me
these reports: what is important to them and why, their
PANELLIST: approach to managing the issues and how
Doug Johnston + • Scottish Power’s CEO statement which cuts they had progressed against what they had
out a lot of the ‘fluff’ often seen in these planned to do. This is set within the context of
introductions providing an honest overview some usefully constructed general overview
of both successes and challenges. sections. I was particularly pleased to see a
+ • Scottish and Southern’s coverage of section on the reporting process which
the ‘energy challenge’ and particularly the outlines how they have gone about improving
challenges of operating coal-fired power the quality of the information they disclose –
stations. this illustrates to me that they believe that
+ • Scottish Power and Scottish and it’s not just about getting the information out
Southern’s clear presentation of how they there but making sure what gets out there is
have progressed against targets – including directed at the right stakeholders and is of
where these have not been met. sufficient quality for them to form appropriate
conclusions about performance.
Scottish Power and International Power’s
reports are broad in coverage – addressing
issues such as how they treat their people
and how they deal with their suppliers. and the winner is...
Scottish and Southern’s primarily deals with SCOTTISH POWER
Morrisons may now be established as one of Safeway. Like its rivals, its reporting gives due
FOOD & DRUG RETAILERS: the biggest players in the supermarket sector, attention to the company’s role in fighting
but it’s clearly still the new kid on the block obesity, but most of the action in other spheres
when it comes to corporate responsibility is promised for the future rather than
Morrison Supermarkets reporting. chronicled in the present. Morrisons has
Sainsbury’s pledged to produce more detail on the web
Tesco By comparison with the fulsome efforts of in the near future, but for now its reporting
Tesco and Sainsbury’s, Morrisons’ latest has failed to take any significant shape.
three-page web offering is thin in the extreme,
PANELLIST: although it does lay out how the group aims + Sainsbury’s, on the other hand, could almost
Peter Mason to tackle CSR in its new era as owner of be accused of going too far. Its 129 page
report is definitely on the long side, but
contains impressive amounts of performance
data and has all the bases covered. Tesco’s
reporting is, if anything, even more
comprehensive in terms of data, and comes
with a self-contained section on KPIs that is
especially useful for CSR anoraks. It also makes
good use of case studies, which are always an
engaging way to get the message across.
If Morrisons delivers on its promise to scale-up
its efforts, then the sector should soon have
a good story to tell on the reporting front –
though none of the three appear to have
their data verified at present, which is an
increasingly untenable position these days.
and the winner is...
18____19 DIRECTIONS 05
All of these companies have some form of + • The focus of Unilever’s sustainability
FOOD PRODUCERS & disclosure on their non-financial performance initiatives on 3 key themes – agriculture,
PROCESSORS: – Cadbury Schweppes and Unilever produce fish and water.
stand-alone reports and Associated British + • Tate & Lyle’s description of environmental
Food (“ABF”) and Tate & Lyle have separate targets and progress against these in the
Associated British Foods sections on their websites and within their environment section of their report.
Cadbury Schweppes annual report and accounts. From my + • ABF’s description of what different
Tate & Lyle perspective it’s not how the report looks or stakeholder groups can expect from ABF
Unilever the format it’s in that counts, but how it helps and how they can expect to be engaged.
me to answer some fundamental questions
about the business: Some of the lowlights are:
Doug Johnston • What are the issues which are most critical • An almost complete absence in the reports
to your success and how have you on how the topics covered have been selected
determined these? or indeed why certain issues are hardly
• What plans did you have in managing those covered at all.
issues and how did you get on in progressing • There is a lot of talk about corporate social
these plans? responsibility being embedded, but very
• What challenges and opportunities will you little coverage of how.
be responding to in the future? • On the whole the sector is big on reporting
progress and successes, but there are only a
With these questions in mind, some of the handful of examples where poor progress or
highlights from these reports are; failure is discussed.
+ • The ‘how we make decisions’ section
of the Cadbury Schweppes report which
clearly sets out the governance framework and the winner is...
across non-financial matters. UNILEVER
The report is easy to navigate,
it clearly outlines the sustainability
initiatives which are important to
the business and the report has
been independently assured – the
only one in this sector.
GUS is a puzzle. The group which owns Argos, Next may not have given up reporting, but
GENERAL RETAILERS: Homebase and the credit information company its latest version is for 2003 – and that was
Experian initially appears to be antagonistic a muted attempt. The data shows a 23%
to CR. Chief executive John Pearce describes it increase in carbon dioxide emissions but
Boots Group as “a piece of jargon that is not always very there is no explanation.
GUS Still, that’s more than Dixons, which doesn’t
Kingfisher Curiously, the body of the report is much better actually have a report. There is some
Marks & Spencer than most in this sector. It includes some data information in the CR section of its website.
on subjects such as energy and emissions, But it manages not to mention that it was
Next supplier audits, health and safety. deleted from the DJSI Stoxx European
index last year. And it says nothing in a
PANELLIST: On the other hand, Boots and Kingfisher Trading Standards section about brushes
Roger Cowe disappoint. Both seem to have gone with regulators.
backwards in the last couple of years. Boots
claims that the Dow Jones Sustainability Reassuringly, Marks & Spencer is the clear
Index demonstrates that it is ‘clearly leader in this sector, despite its commercial
positioned among the best in our industry’. troubles over the past few years. It provides
But it offers no evidence to back that up. a wide-ranging CR website and a report as a
pdf or hard copy. The report adopts quite a
Kingfisher, the owner of B&Q and similar chains different approach to the website, which is
around the world, used to have an innovative unhelpful. But each section consists of a clear
approach, embodied in the 2002 report: presentation of last year’s targets, this year’s
“How Green is my Kitchen?”. Sadly, the progress and new targets. The presentation is
group appears to be stuck there. There was a bit boring, but maybe that’s fitting for what
a 2003 update but now there is just a policy many would regard as the nation’s most
document. predictable clothing retailer.
and the winner is...
MARKS & SPENCER