A survey has revealed that the public thinks companies should be legally required to report on corporate responsibility (CR) issues.
The poll, conducted by CorporateRegister.com, found that the greatest level of agreement was in favour of mandatory CR reporting for publicly listed companies. Mandatory reporting on specific issues for all companies followed this.
Respondents to the survey also considered that eventually all organisations, not just companies, should be required to report on issues.
The number of CR reports continues to increase year on year and is now becoming an increasingly mainstream business focus across all sectors and sizes of company.
Europe continues to take the lead on CR reporting, with far more reports than any other region. European companies are now expected to report on CR issues, with laggards being called to account for not doing so rather than applauding those that do, said the report
Jennifer Iansen-Rogers, head of report assurance services at ERM Certification and Verification Services, said, “In recent years, public interest, regulatory changes and investor expectations have meant that non-financial information is now routinely disclosed by organisations through sustainability reports and enhanced business reviews within annual reports.”
When companies first started to publish standalone non-financial reports over 20 years ago, they focused on environmental and health and safety aspects. As the concept of sustainable development has gained ground, the content of reports has changed to reflect this.
Now around four-fifths of these reports can be classed either as ‘sustainability’ or ‘corporate responsibility’ reports and cover multiple issues. The distinction between the two is that ‘sustainability’ reports include economic and socio-economic information.
Investors were found to be third on the audience priority list for CR reports, behind employees and shareholders. Local communities and government or regulators were further down the priority scale, suggesting that the further away the stakeholder from the operations of the organisation, the less important the need to consider them for the CR report.