ACCA presents thirteenth ethical reporting awards, but more transparency called for

Source: EDIE, 1 March 2004

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants held its thirteenth UK awards for Sustainability Reporting, this week. The Co-operative Bank plc, GlaxoSmithKleine and the Royal Mail Group plc, were among the eleven organisations acknowledged for the social and environmental reporting of their business activities.
The ceremony also gave the opportunity for Barbara Young, Chief Executive of the Environment Agency to highlight the trend of environmental disclosures in FTSE All-Share Index companies, from preliminary findings of Agency research. The William Morrison supermarket chain was held as an example of how not to operate from an environmental perspective – unlike 95% of its FTSE 100 counterparts, the chain did not produce a separate environmental report, nor make any reference to environmental issues in its annual report, said Baroness Young.

Companies held up for praise were:

GlaxoSmithKleine for Best Environmental Report;
The Co-operative Bank for Best Sustainability Report;
CIS and Traidcraft, joint winners for Best Social Report and
BAT plc and Powergen were amongst the corporations recognised for their online reporting on social and environmental issues.
The Co-operative Bank has won the sustainability report award for the third year in a row. Paul Monaghan, head of sustainable development at the Bank told edie that its policy is to put honesty at the heart of the reports.

"We are not short of volume within FTSE 100 companies reporting, however I am not sure if the quality of reporting is high enough. The Bank keeps winning because it is a degree more honest, companies are afraid to report negative findings. However, I would say that if you identify a problem, report on it and commit to making it better then it is a whole lot better for the process," said Mr Monaghan.

Andrew Harding, Executive Director of ACCA UK said: "If used properly, non-financial reporting also helps organisations to control weaknesses and minimise the risk of ethical misconduct. There is, however, a long way to go. Many more organisations should be reporting in this way and those that do still have room for improvement."

"For example, the Awards judges’ report highlighted that many more sustainability reports should disclose the lobbying positions taken by organisations on key public policy issues. Such disclosures demonstrate the level of internal commitment to sustainable development values and principles."