State of CSR Launched
On Thursday 4 May, over 100 professionals gathered at La Trobe Business School for the launch of the 2017 Annual Review of the State of CSR. A broad cross section of sectors were well represented at the event.
ACCSR Managing Director Dr. Leeora Black opened the launch with an overview of the key insights from the report. Professor Rob Phillips, from the University of Richmond, Virginia, followed with the keynote address. Professor Phillips offered a thought provoking commentary on the costs and benefits of introducing mandatory sustainability reporting, a subject within the Annual Review which yielded surprising results.
Professor Phillips noted compulsory reporting may make it more difficult for investors and customers to discern between those companies that are genuine leaders in sustainability and those that produce a report merely as a matter of compliance. It is also important to recognise the current reporting burden faced by companies.
Costs however, would be counterbalanced by the advance in corporate social and environmental accountability. Moreover, with companies brought to alignment on sustainability reporting, this may drive new innovation and progress above what is currently accepted as best practice.
The Annual Review revealed significant change in attitudes towards mandatory reporting, with 53 per cent of respondents in support of such a regulation. In 2005, the Federal Government launched an inquiry into the introduction of mandatory sustainability reporting. At the time, there was little appetite for compulsory reporting.
Mandatory disclosure of sustainability risks and impacts has been increasingly explored by governments and stock exchanges around the world. Consider the UK Modern Slavery Act, the revised NZX corporate governance code and mandatory integrated reporting by the Johanesburg Stock Exchange.
Following Professor Phillips address, Dr. Suzanne Young, Head of Department of Management and Marketing at La Trobe University, presented the CSR Top 10 Awards. Award recipients were those companies that achieved the highest scores for their CSR management capabilities in this year’s report.
CSR Award winners (alphabetical order):
- Tata Consultancy Services
- Yarra Valley Water
Dr. Black hosted a panel discussion with CSR Top 10 winners Joanne Beckett, Chief Product Officer at LexisNexis, Matt Brennan, Head of Sustainability at Transurban, Rosie Wheen, CEO at WaterAid, Karen Iles, Head of CSR at Tata Consultancy Services and Professor Rob Phillips.
The panelists shared their ingredients to success, which included executive level leadership, company ingrained CSR values and strategic partnerships to scale positive impact.
Transurban’s Matt Brennan illustrated how companies are beginning to reframe sustainability issues as financial issues. Transurban are now looking at the effect of increasing temperatures on the lifespan of their concrete and the associated maintenance costs. This is no longer a theoretical discussion, but a matter of dollars and cents.
With another successful State of CSR launched, we look forward to sharing new CSR insights and trends next year in what will be a milestone tenth report.
To read more about this year’s State of CSR research, download the report here.