New Zealand companies win at trans Tasman sustainability reporting awards

Source: Scoop, 21 May 2008

For the fifth year in a row Auckland company WaterCare Services has been honoured at the annual trans Tasman sustainable reporting awards announced in Sydney today.

WaterCare won the Best Report in the Water Sector award in recognition of its continual leadership in reporting among its peers.

Vodafone NZ has also been recognized as the Winner of the Best Local Report from a Global Organisation in recognition of the company’s detailed response to local stakeholder issues.
Entries from Australia and New Zealand in this year’s awards by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) were up 39% on last year.

The awards recognise excellence in sustainability reporting incorporating environmental and social impacts. Companies are judged based on the transparency in their reporting and how well they communicate their sustainability performance. Reports must achieve a high level of credibility and provide evidence of the integration of sustainability issues within the business processes and strategy of their organization.

The coveted awards are endorsed by the New Zealand Business Council for Sustainable Development

The overall Winner of the Best Sustainability Report was BHP Billiton and there was a surprise in the financial services category with ANZ taking out the top prize amid fierce competition.

Lyn Mayes of the Business Council, one of eight judges for this year’s awards, says it is refreshing to see New Zealand organisations once again receiving one of the top awards.

"This year the judges agreed that in addition to an overall winner, we should judge winners of specific sectors to encourage peer leadership. Each year participants in the Awards want to know who they should be looking to for leadership in their own industry and I believe that announcing best report winners for categories will provide new impetus to sustainability report writing."

Award winners and judges’ comments are:

• Best Sustainability Report – BHP Billiton This report provides a valuable insight into the sustainability profile of BHP Billiton, with a commendable effort made to ensure the audience has a clear understanding of the issues BHP Billiton face and the management strategies in place to address them. It is a very credible report and shows a willingness to report on its sustainability objectives.

• Winner – Best Report in the Financial Services Sector – ANZ For the first time one of the big four banks has taken out an award. This is a credible report which conveyed commitment to the integration of sustainability into the organisation’s business practices.

• Winner – Best Report in the Property Sector – Investa Property Group Despite delisting from the Australian stock exchange Investa Property continues to report on sustainability. This report outlines how sustainability is being integrated into core business strategy.

• Winner – Best Report in the Public Sector – Department of Families, Housing, Community Services and Indigenous Affairs This report showed how environmental decision-making is being integrated into business management systems and processes, such as construction and procurement

• Winner – Best Report in the Water Sector – Watercare Watercare’s report disclosed key information through the use of a ruler system, which has been used consistently year-on-year for their reports.

• Winner – Best SME Report – VicSuper VicSuper’s report included a section on business strategy and strengths, which is clearly presented in context of the wider societal and environment system.

• Winner – Best Early Reporter – Transurban This report contained good information on the governance of sustainability issues and impacts.

• Winner – Best Local Report from a Global Organisation – Vodafone New Zealand Vodafone New Zealand included detailed information about local stakeholder issues, e.g. SMS bullying campaign, radiation issues, mobile phone credit balances.

• Commendation for Supply Chain and Product Stewardship Reporting – Fuji Xerox This report discloses information about Fuji Xerox’s intention to align business strategy with sustainability with an emphasis on the successful product stewardship and development programs in place.

• Commendation for Excellent Report Structure – Boral Boral gives a concise, readable overview of its operation and clearly shows the link between Boral’s sustainability practices and organisational strategy. Details of public policy and board responsibilities suggesting the business is focused on sustainability from top down

Lyn Mayes says that she is particularly pleased to see New Zealand companies like Vodafone recognised for reporting on local issues with a local report:

"While sustainability reporting in Australia and New Zealand is increasing only 35% of Australia’s top 100 conduct sustainability reporting compared to 76% of the top 100 in the UK . New Zealand would be similar to Australia in this respect. Moreover many New Zealand businesses, that are owned by a global organisation or are an Australian subsidiary, report only as a part of an overall report. It is good to see organisations like Vodafone reporting back to its New Zealand customers and stakeholders. I am also pleased that organisations like Fuji Xerox have been commended for their clear focus on supply chain and product stewardship.

"The Business Council considers the principle of transparency to be a fundamental part of sustainability and as such we require members to prepare a sustainability report within three years of becoming a member. With a huge increase in membership from 55 to 73 members in the past year, we expect a similar increase in sustainability reporting to follow."

The Business Council is running two separate workshops on May 26 in Auckland for those organizations contemplating their first or early report and those who want to become leaders in sustainability.