Around 26 companies have entered the first triple bottom line reporting competition to be staged in Australia by the Association of Chartered and Certified Accountants (ACCA).
The ACCA will announce the winners of five awards, including commendations, in three categories: environmental reporting, social reporting and sustainability reporting. The awards are sponsored by accounting giant KPMG.
There are 29 entrants overall across the three categories but companies including Murrumbidgee Irrigation Ltd, BHP Billiton Ltd and The Body Shop have lodged entries in more than one category.
There may be further overlap between the three categories because according to the head of ACCA in Australia and New Zealand, Richard Francis, the awards judging panel has concluded that if it thought an entry in one category was outstanding in another, it could be given the award in the other category but not necessarily the best award.
Mr Francis said that in the number of entries ranked Australia ranked only behind the UK, although he would like to see more from the financial and corporate sectors.
However he said in quality terms Australian companies still have some ground to make up. We believe the entries show companies understanding of sustainability reporting is becoming more sophisticated, Mr Francis said.
Reports are moving away from merely including motherhood statements about their efforts and are focused more on measurable performance.
There is still some way to go to increase the number and quality of reports to achieve standards comparable to UK and EU-countries, but this is a promising start he said.
Members of the judging panel include RMIT Professor Craig Deegan, Monash University Professor Carol Adams, EPA Victorias Gabrielle McCorkill, URS Australias (and former SIRIS chief) Terence Jeyaretnam and the World Wildlife Funds Michael Rae.
Mr Francis said the panel preferred entrants to refer to the Global Reporting Initiative standards although this did not preclude use of other widely-accepted standards.
ACCA has about 1500 professional members in Australia, particularly émigré accountants. ACCA has strong international affiliations and has run sustainability reporting awards in the UK for almost a decade and has also run them in countries such as Pakistan, Malaysia and Hong Kong.
Apart from those already mentioned entrants include: MIM Holdings, Holden Ltd, The Body Shop, Visy Industries, Toyota Motor Corporation Ltd, Newmont Australia, Australian Ethical Investment Ltd and Westpac. The award winners will be announced at a ceremony in Sydney on June 3rd.
In other awards news the Banksia Environment Foundation has released the names of finalists in its annual award categories including the third Leadership in Socially Responsible Investment award.
Finallists include AMP Henderson Global Investors, Australian Ethical Investment; Investa Property Group; the Rewards Group Limited in WA, and VicSuper.
Finallists in the Business Environmental Responsibility & Leadership category include: Atlas Dry Cleaners (WA); Collex (NSW); St John of God Health Care Subiaco (WA); Sydney Royal Easter Show, Royal Agricultural Society of NSW (NSW); Toyota Motor Corporation Australia Ltd (VIC); VicSuper (VIC); and VISY Industries (VIC).
Winners will be announced at an awards ceremony at the Gold Coast on May 30.
By Paddy Manning