csr network, the international corporate social responsibility specialist, is launching its 2001 Benchmark Survey on "The State of Global Environmental and Social Reporting" in early July. As these issues climb higher up the corporate reputation agenda, the document has been in great demand amongst senior marketing and communication directors. In essence, the survey provides unique insights into the environmental and social reporting practices of the 100 largest firms (G100) in Fortune magazine’s Global 500.
Mark Line, Managing Director of csr network said, "For the past three years we have been providing strategic advice on environmental and social issues to some of the world’s biggest companies. The volume of this work has grown enormously, as Board Directors responsible for marketing, business development, environment and/or finance recognise that these issues cannot be divorced from measures of corporate reputation."
The first survey was published in 1998 since when, environmental and social reporting has become a key strategic issue for many of the world’s leading companies. The latest survey shows that for the first time, half of the G100 firms produced environmental reports and more than half also reported on social responsibility and corporate citizenship programmes.
This is the first year that the survey has included analysis of social reporting, reflecting the growing trend towards combined sustainability reporting. The survey covers 33 reporting indicators arranged into four categories: How firms report; Management System Reporting; Environmental Performance and Corporate Social Responsibility. Key issues include global warming, resource consumption, transportation and issues of public concern.
This year’s survey also indicates that the Computers and Electronics sector has developed strong reporting practices, with the automotive sector coming a close second. The Financial Services sector now also seems to be taking reporting more seriously, after a slow start.
Perhaps not surprisingly, the Internet is rapidly becoming the medium of choice for such reports, with 64% of G100 companies using their web sites as means of communicating environmental and social performance. Some companies have taken this a step further, providing interactive web-based reports which are frequently updated.
The survey is designed to add value to corporate operations. It will help companies to benchmark themselves against their peers, formulate reporting indicators, define the best reporting model, define key issues and assist with an understanding of emerging reporting trends.
Malcolm Shaw is a Senior Executive of Unilever, one of the leading global reporters: "We are flattered that the 2001 Benchmark Survey uses our environmental and social reports as an example of current best practice. We place a great deal of store on our management in these areas and the reports are an important element of this. The survey allows us to compare ourselves against other companies and refine our own reporting procedures."
csr network’s Mark Line added: "This year’s results are extremely encouraging. The 2001 survey shows how companies have truly benefited from the reporting process. Indeed, the message is clear, those producing such reports find that they become a powerful means of driving change throughout the organisation in addition to enhancing external reputation – and in many cases, adding value to the bottom line. The 2001 Benchmark Survey contains a wealth of information and we hope that it will also become a driver of this positive change now and in the future."