North Armerican Sustainability Reporting award winners excel at transparency

Source: Canada Newswire Group, 8 April 2005

The winners of the third annual Ceres-ACCA North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting were announced today. The awards will be presented to the winners at a ceremony in Toronto at noon today.
Vancity Credit Union, a Vancouver based financial services company, was among this year’s award recipients.

The four award winners this year are:

Best Sustainability Report
Hewlett-Packard (Houston, Texas)

Commendation for Sustainability Reporting
Vancity (Vancouver, British Columbia)

Best Small and Medium Enterprise Report
YSI Incorporated (Yellow Springs, Ohio)

Commendation for Social Reporting
Gap Inc. (San Francisco, California)

Now in its third year, the North American Awards for Sustainability Reporting are given jointly by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (ACCA) and Ceres, a Boston-bases coalition of environmental groups and investors. The aims of the Awards are to:
– Encourage better reporting on sustainability – economic, environmental and social – performance by corporations and other organizations across North America
– Reward best practice and provide guidance to those that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability, environmental and/or social reports, and
– Increase accountability for impacts and responsiveness to stakeholders.

In total this year there were 68 entries from 66 companies – a record number. From these, 18 entries were shortlisted, including eight Canadian companies: Dofasco, Enbridge, Placer Dome, PotashCorp, Talisman Energy, TransAlta and Vancity. An 8-person international judges’ panel with representatives from Harvard University, Industry Canada, Domini Social Investments, Pollution Probe and SustainAbility amongst others, met in January to select the award winners. The judging criteria focused on completeness, credibility and effectiveness of communication.

Andrew Savitz, a partner in PricewaterhouseCoopers’ Environmental and Sustainability Services, the Award Sponsor, said: "These winning reports are articulating vision, establishing targets and identifying action steps for moving forward and inviting engagement. This year’s award winners represent the best examples of this."
Hewlett-Packard was the top prize winner in the Sustainability category.
HP’s 78-page 2004 Global Citizen Report presents three-year goals and targets
on a wide range of priority issues, including electronic waste reduction,
improving environmental and social performance in its extensive supply chain
and increasing global access to information technology.
Vancity finished a close second behind HP and is the top report in the financial services sector. Vancity’s 2002-03 Accountability Report details the company’s economic, environmental and social performance. Completed in accordance with GRI guidelines, the report contains excellent stakeholder engagement elements and references a substantial amount of benchmarking.
"Vancity has long measured itself against a triple bottom line of environmental, social and financial performance," says Elain Duvall, Chair of Vancity’s Board of Directors. "It’s an honour to be recognized alongside such distinguished company and gratifying to see that more and more, organizations are starting to realize that good business is good for business."
"We are seeing sustainability reports improving and growing in importance," said Lynn Beauregard, Administrative Director of ACCA Canada. "The number of reports submitted to the judges increased by 40% this year. The best reporters are also integrating all of their component communications (ie. web site, print copy report, special reports) and placing reference to sustainability or corporate social responsibility on their home page or the next level of their web sites."

"Transparency and disclosure are the foundation of good corporate governance, and these winning reports are exemplary models that other companies and organizations should emulate," said Mindy S. Lubber, president of Ceres, a national coalition of environmental groups and investors. "With the expanded information-sharing capabilities of the 21st century, investors and consumers make an increasing number of their decisions based on a company’s handling of environmental, social and other sustainability issues. These reports are one of the key ways companies can communicate these issues to investors and other stakeholders." The Canadian Business for Social Responsibility (CBSR) and the Sustainable Enterprise Academy (SEA) are endorsers of the awards program in Canada.