Benchmarking reveals hot topics on corporate responsibility agenda

When Business in the Community (BITC) decided to raise the bar in its annual corporate responsibility rating, none of the 98 participants could meet the top five star ranking. But the recently released 2014 Corporate Responsibility Index did reveal six key trends among those companies leading the way in corporate responsibility.

Insights from the Index revealed that top performers had a board and senior managers with a sustainability mindset, were linking sustainability progress with remuneration, had strong stakeholder engagement on sustainability, evaluated the economic benefit of corporate responsibility, were analysing sustainability mega trends and their associated risks and opportunities, and were looking at sustainable products and services as a long term investment.

The Corporate Responsibility (CR) Index is one of world’s leading voluntary benchmark of corporate responsibility, allowing businesses to benchmark against competitors and transparently communicate progress to all stakeholders.

In a significant move away from the previous bronze, silver, gold and platinum rankings, BITC created a tougher five-star rating system aimed at stretching companies to drive change within their business and reflecting the complexity of integrating sustainability into core business strategy.

Despite the lack of five stars, BITC’s Chief Executive Stephen Howard said that companies are making real progress to integrate CR throughout their operations. “We know that companies are increasingly discussing CR at board level, transforming company culture through embedding CR into training, and unlocking innovative products and services by looking ahead to the long-term challenges and opportunities of responsible business. Crucially, this shift is being driven by a tranche of responsible leaders that understand the new contract now required between business and society to drive change,” said Mr Howard.

Of the 98 companies that took part in the CR Index, 27 were global companies with operations in Australia and New Zealand (ANZ) but only 10 included their ANZ operations in the scope of their submission.
“The lack of ANZ participation was something of a concern for us,” said Mr Alan Dayeh, from the Net Balance Foundation, which manages the CR Index in Australia.
“The BITC CR Index offers companies the opportunity to identify gaps for improvement while reinforcing good practice, track their progress, benchmark against their peers and engage with stakeholders. “It is one of the few benchmarks that takes a holistic view to assess CR performance to look how companies are driving shared value opportunities to contribute to addressing the world’s societal and environmental challenges. “While there are many investor-led indexes, a public, transparent and non-commercial benchmark is invaluable for the broadest set of stakeholders and we believe Australian companies would benefit greatly from participation,” said Mr Dayeh.
For more information:
Kathryn Franklin, Net Balance Management Group, 0419 833 928
Jane Farago, Net Balance Foundation, 0419 003 077