Saturday, January 26, 2013

Just how hard is it to disclose Carbon Emissions? Ten Examples.

As we go into the home straights with the CRRA '13 voting period nearly over (did you vote? if note, you can do so here!), it's time to take a look at the shortlist in the Best Carbon Disclosure category.

As with the other categories, there are 10 shortlisted reports.

Reports in the Best Carbon Disclosure Category

Alcatel-Lucent: Corporate Responsibility Report 2011
Banco Bradesco SA: Sustainability Report 2011
British Sky Broadcasting Group plc: Bigger Picture Report 2012
Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc : Corporate Responsibility & Sustainability Report 2011/2012
Gas Natural SDG SA: Carbon Footprint Report 2011
Hess Corporation: 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report
Hydro Québec: Sustainability Report 2011
Hyundai Engineering & Construction Co: Sustainability Report 2012. We Build Tomorrow
Royal Dutch Shell plc: Sustainability Report 2011
Xstrata plc: Sustainability Report 2011. Creating shared value

The category description for Best Carbon Disclosure is simple: "Which report gives the best disclosure of the organisation’s carbon emissions, the implications for climate change, and the mitigation measures taken? Check for policy, quantified data, targets."

Carbon emissions disclosure is a rather broad topic. As you all know, the GHG Protocol divides Carbon Emissions into three Scopes: 1 (emissions we generate), 2 (emissions we buy that someone else has generated), and 3 (emissions generated by someone else while working on our behalf).
My acid-test is how easy it was for me to find the answer to three simple questions:
What are the absolute Scope 1, Scope 2 and Scope 3 emissions for this company in 2011?
Has this company generated more or fewer absolute carbon emissions during the past 5 years?
Does this company have a target to reduce carbon emissions during the next 2-5 years?

Interested?  Let's see what we found:

XSTRATA: ease of getting to the data: 5
  • Reports all three Scopes and overall total.
  • Generated more emissions over three years in all three scopes. Scope 3 is due to customers combusting more coal. Scope 1 and 2 increases are not explained.
  • I could not find a specific emissions related target 2012 and beyond.

ROYAL DUTCH SHELL: ease of getting to the data: 6
  • Reports on Scope 1 and Scope 2  and makes a comment about Scope 3 "we estimate that the CO2 emissions from the use of our products were around 570 million tonnes in 2011." (For perspective, Shells Scope 1 and 2 emissions were 75 million tonnes)
  • Generated fewer Scope 1 emissions versus 2010 but more than 2009; Scope 2 emissions remained the same as 2010 but more than 2009.
  • I was not able to locate a specific target for improving carbon emissions performance.
HYUNDAI ENGINEERING: ease of getting to the data: 8
  • Reports on Scope 1, 2 and 3 with three year data.
  • Total carbon emissions reduced in 2011 versus 2010 and 2009
  • Hyundai Engineering has quantified targets through to 2020 and a Green Management roadmap which shows how to get there.
HYDRO QUEBEC: ease of getting to the data: 7
  • Reports on Scope 1 and 2 with four year data.
  • Total emissions increased versus prior year.
  • I was not able to locate a specific target for improving carbon emissions performance.
HESS CORPORATION: ease of getting to the data: 4
  • Reports on Scope 1 and Scope 2 emissions with three year data and a one year estimate for 2011 for Scope 3 product use emissions. "We estimate our 2011 Scope 3 emissions from product sales at 35.7 million tonnes of CO2e in 2011, of which approximately 45 percent was related to product use in mobile sources and 55 percent to product use in stationary sources."(For reference, Hess's total emissions in 2011 were 5.1 million tonnes CO2e). In addition, Hess mentions a further 230,000 tonnes of emissions due to third party trucking and logistics and a further 22,700 tonnes for employee travel. It wasn't that easy to understand all of this without really really concentrating.... 
  • Absolute GHG 2011 emissions were higher than in 2010 or 2009.
  • Hess has a GHG intensity (not absolute) target reduction of 20% by 2013 using 2008 as  a baseline.

GAS NATURAL: ease of getting to the data: 4
This is actually a standalone carbon footprint report so you might expect it would be pretty focused, although the volume of data actually did not make it easier to locate specific numbers.
  • Reports Scope 1, 2 and 3 for three years, absolute emissions
  • 2011 absolute emissions were higher than 2010 
  • There is a Scope 1 and 2 target for 2014 carbon emissions reduction
COCA COLA ENTERPRISES: ease of getting to the data 6
  • Reports Scope 1,2 and 3 for 5 years
  • Absolute emissions reduced each year.
  • Coca cola has a target covering 13 years: "Our new target is to halve the carbon emissions involved in making a liter of product between 2007 and 2020 by driving efficiencies in our facilities and investing in renewable energy."

BRITISH SKY BROADCASTING GROUP: ease of getting to the data 6
I had to use the GRI Index on the British Sky website to get to the Carbon Emissions data, as the direct navigation route wasn't all that clear. Once there, I found nicely presented data. Here is the page link to the online report section - this data is not included in the PDF summary report.
  • Reports Scope 1, 2 and 3 for  four years
  • Absolute gross emissions reduced each year versus prior two years
  • Target: 25% reduction in gross CO2e emissions (tonnes/£m turnover) by 2020 versus a 2008/09 baseline

BANCO BRADESCO: ease of getting to the data 0
No data was included in the printed download report, and I had to use the GRI Index which directed me to the Banco Bradesco Banco de Planeta website for this. On the English website version, there is an interactive data chart that displays data in graphs. After trying to play around with this for a while, to actually get a view as to whether the carbon performance is improving or otherwise. Also the data charts only include 2010, when the reporting period is noted as calendar year 2011. Therefore, not only was this a major effort to get to the data, I found there is actually no data. I didn't bother then looking for targets.  

ALCATEL LUCENT: ease of getting to the data: 9
  • Reports detailed Scope 1, 2 and 3 data for one year, with a visual overview since 2008 of total emissions
  • Absolute emissions have reduced versus prior year.
  • Sets a detailed emissions reduction target and pathway to achieve it

Note: One thing I didn't check was whether the above companies reported date for 100% of global operations, or only partial operations. Obviously, I also did not make an assessment of the carbon management performance of the reporting companies, just the way they reported.

What can we learn from all of this ?

Carbon emission data is mostly not easy to find:
My non-scientific ease-of-getting-to-the-data measure (scale 0-10, where 10 is best) shows that the range is between 0 and 9, with most companies coming out somewhere in the  middle. Even though companies use the GRI Framework, and nine of the ten reports above do so (including six at A+ level), it is still not easy to go directly to the data and understand how the company performance is actually trending in a consistent and easy way. While the GRI Index is useful as a fallback, I don't want to have to work through a Sustainability Report indicator by indicator. I want to find the right section in the content index and navigate directly to the page. In this sense, the Alcatel-Lucent hyperlinked PDF report was the easiest and most gratifying in terms of looking for carbon emission data and finding everything I wanted quickly and efficiently. Companies need to get better at presenting data in reports in a way which makes them easy to navigate. Readers do not have patience. This is the age of instant. If I don't find the data in an instant, I am off. Banco Bradesco take note.

Scope 3 is catching on:
In these ten examples, most companies addressed Scope 3 emissions in some form, even if they have only been able to estimate data at this stage. This is a good development, as we know that for most companies, this is the significantly bigger area of opportunity and impact. The new G4 guidelines, if launched as proposed, require Scope 3 reporting. Anyone who's not considered that yet would be advised to start doing so.
Target setting is patchy:
Only four of these ten companies actually specified an absolute emissions reduction target. A few more companies specified intensity targets. However, I always say that the planet doesn't care about intensity. Companies should commit themselves to a specific absolute emissions  reduction target. Making a public commitment is key to managing performance accordingly.
Finally, voting for CRRA'13 ends soon (officially at end January) so please vote and give the companies that do it best a little encouragement! Vote here! 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

Humor in Crisis: Tesco on the Grill

While researching this article for CSRwire's Talkback blog, on the story about 29% of horse DNA found in frozen "100% beef" burgers sold by Tesco (and some other retailers), I was looking through the Tesco Facebook page, which has now turned into probably the biggest respository on the internet of horse jokes. Despite the sad failure of Tesco to deliver on it's promise of quality, safety and integrity, this page is (sadly) very amusing. As a therapeutic respite from the daily grind, I thought you might be interested to see some of the jokes that are flying around (unedited, except for punctuation here and there, plus my links to references that not all may be familiar with). The creativity and humor in adversity is quite something to see. And I only managed to scan about 1,500 of the thousands of  recent comments on the page. Apologies in advance if this offends horse-lovers. I couldn't help smiling even though I love horses and really, it's not funny at all......

Patrick Sharkey: Tesco is giving away treble points for petrol and burgers in a promotion called "only fuels and horses"
Emily Stewart Can I have a horse to go, please?
Michael Ryan: An awful dose of the trots
Luka Cusick Knight Your horse burgers are bad... You should try quarter pandas
Serge Warner: Have Tesco considered stocking Red Rum and Raisin ice cream?
Rach Best: Tesco, your burgers gave us the gallops
Simon Tucker : I was in the Tesco cafe ordering my food and the waitress asked if I wanted anything on my burger, So I had a fiver each way.
David Turmon Griffiths: Gotta say beefburgers dont make very good horses d'oevers
Michael Sharp: Is this a case of Tesco failing to "meat" their obligations?
Tim Stone: A horse! A horse! my kingdom for a horse! Sorry King Richard, the best we can do is saddle you up to a Tesco burger
Jordan Duguid I just feel sorry for the guy that ate a burger and is now in hospital! Don't worry doctors say he's in a STABLE condition
John Fitzsimmons: (Scottish accent) It's neighhh big deal
Tim Stone: I just loaded up my car with Tesco burgers. It has more horsepower now!
Hoffmeister Bear: I heard there may be a problem with Cadburys products - I've heard about something called a Horse Wispa.....
Jodie Young what will I do with this 200 burgers I've been saddled with
Adam Glover: stop Horseing around
Brian Jermaine Mbofana: So does this validate the saying 'am so hungry I can eat a horse' lol
Clare Frances Tesco i thank you this is better than tv for now
Trevor J Coonan the horse has already (been) bolted
Craig-Emily Coldwell White After having one of your burgers earlier my throat is starting to feel a bit hoarse lol
Andrew Ross Don't mean to brag but I'm hung like a Tesco Burger!
Julie Dickson When your labels read "May Contain Nuts" were you talking about pony nuts?
Aiden Pants I've tried Sainsbury's and Tesco burgers and I have to say Tesco wins by a nose.
Tim Stone tesco horseburgers... may contain traces of jockey
Tim Stone i wonder whats in their hot dogs
Maria HD Went to the freezer to check my burgers... and they're off!
Kevan Toner New offer: If you lead a horse to tesco you get a free drink..
Kevan Toner A mate just gave me a present, I unwrapped it and it was a pack of Tesco burgers. Well, you should never look a gift horse in the mouth so I'm not complaining...
Stevie Bee They're just flogging a dead horse here
Ashley Cleaver This apology is not neighly enough, the whole story has made me very saddle.
James Carrigan hay hay, whats all this then,
Nick Spinks Those burgers are a stable diet
Al McKenzie What's in the horseradish sauce then?
Joe Donnellan never mind, the sales are still stable...
Paul Rawson This is nothing compared to donkey meat in the sausages and this is straight from the horse's mouth...
Richard Philip Belcher If you just repackaged them in my little pony brand burger boxes no one would complain... or would they?
Tim Stone removing the burgers from the shelf is like locking the stable door after the horse has bolted
Joshua William Smyth What's the beef
Karen Patten Maybe they were meant for the galloping gourmet
Pia Long What did a Tesco butcher say when it found My Little Pony in the line for slaughter? Every little helps!
lin Skitt I do their new Black Beauty range of Burgers I've read the book I've seen the film now eat the cast.
Anak Rantau You are what you eat. You're all horses now! Haha
Lee Hobbs Tesco Burgers are low in salt but high in Shergar.
Jamie Hynam Traces of zebras found in Tesco barcodes
James Zutaten Tesco value burgers are a clear outsider but they win by a nose
Mike Acton That explains why I always felt like going out for a gallop round the block , after eating burgers for tea....
Gerard Grimalt Has anyone tested the veggie burgers for Uniquorn yet?
Kayleigh Nuray To eat or not eat a Tesco burger? That is equestrian
Rob Carver Tesco own brand = show winning quality
Tim Stone hmmm sea horse in the fish fingers?
Ian Hatfield shame on you tesco, i've just seen a three legged horse
Rob Carver You need to jump some hurdles to get over this embarrassment
Gillian Cookson Nedelcu This '"Ascot" to stop!
Tim Stone ok ok ok no more burger jokes... time to 'rein' it in
Rusty Oxide Modern Nursery Rymes #1.
Horsey horsey dont you stop
Or you'll end up in a Tesco shop
Your tail goes swish, the wheels go round
Giddy up horsey your a quarter pound...

Tim Stone now i know what the acronym tesco means... tesco's equestrian select choice offal, every little helps
Brian Smith Good thing about the horse jokes its stopped all that sick stuff about jimmy saddle. Its gone on furlong enough
David Debbie Pass Neigh lad , it's got me eating carrots now
Steven Ratcliffe They're still on sale in my NEIGHbourhood...
Nicky Nobbs Going to take you a while to get over this hurdle...
Andy Churchill I wonder if the addition of horse meat will help me run quicker?

Even Tesco was involved in the horse-jokes fiasco when their pre-scheduled Twitter account tweeted "It's sleepy time so we're off to hit the hay! Talk about from the frying pan into the fire..... sounds like not only Tesco's horseburgers but also Tesco people have been well and truly barbecued... guess this will add a little (equine) flavor to their next Sustainability Report.....

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Ten Innovative Sustainability Reports

What does Innovation in Sustainability Reporting mean? According to, who added this new category in the reporting awards line-up this year, it is all about evolution:

"CR reporting evolves continuously. Some reports consist of mini-sites which incorporate new features of web technology. Others demonstrate new ways of approaching a reporting issue, of interacting with stakeholders, of presenting an overall picture. Which report demonstrates an innovation which may be adopted by other organisations, and which may help reporting evolve?"
The ten companies shortlisted in this category obviously think they have something to add to our sustainability reporting evolution. Of these companies, five are from the U.S., three from Asia (Korea, China and Malaysia) and two from Europe (France and the Netherlands). There are 966 pages of content (although the one report is a website download and is 302 pages!, so forgive me if I didn't read each one with total meticulousness). All but one of these reports are written in accordance with the GRI Framework, with five at Level A or A+.  
Before I go on, I will subtly remind you to VOTE. The voting closes in a less than a couple of weeks. I do think it's important to recognize great reporting. Remember, if you vote in each category, you could win a cash prize every week until the voting closes!
I had a look at the ten reports shortlisted in this category, on a mission to find what is evolutionary (and innovative) about their reporting. Here, in alpha order, are my conclusions:
GRI A+, 179 pages, Technology Hardware Sector, France
One thing that is nicely innovative about the presentation of this report is the hyperlinked PDF. I just love PDF's which enable fast navigation, so that you can reach each section and subsection in the document efficiently. Alcatel Lucent call this the "Smart PDF". Absolutely! I recommend Smart PDF's  to all reporters. Hyperlink your PDF. It makes reports so much easier to read.

But that's not all....

Alcatel Lucent have incorporated an Augmented Reality experience into their report. By downloading an App for iPhone/iPad or Android smartphone or tablet, and, using the App to connect to an image in the report, the App automatically opens up a video of the person in the static image.
Alcatel Lucent says: "Augmented Reality could dramatically change the way we use mobile phones! This technology uses recognition of images in reports, magazines, advertisements and websites to provide immediate access to additional information on your smartphone." What better way to demonstrate this company's technological prowess and innovative approach than by offering an example of how this works. I tried it, and it does what it promises! 

GRI A, 114 pages, Technology Hardware Sector, U.S.

Here is another reporter using the wonders of modern technology to present their report. Not only is the report online and downloadable in both full and summary PDFs, it is also available as an ipad App and an Android App.  The tablet version contains additional content in the form of videos, interactive graphics and links to AMD’s web pages. The App culture is definitely here to stay and the reports of the future will all be in this format, no doubt. Kudos to AMD for getting ahead of the game (AMD is not the first company to publish a Sustainability Report and/or Annual report as an App, but it's still new enough to be considered evolutionary and innovative). AMD also uses a QR code for interactive use of the Summary PDF.

This report is actually AMD's 17th report. There aren't all that many companies who have delivered that many reports. There's something to be said for reinventing your reporting year after year.

GRI Undeclared Level, 87 pages, Electricity Sector, China
The evolutionary and innovative thing about this report is the inclusion of an external rating by experts from the China CSR Report Rating Panel selected by the CSR Research Center of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Economics Department. The rating provided to China Southern Power Grid is reported with commentaries from four of the panel experts. While these commentaries are exclusively positive, the evolutionary thing here is the presentation of the detailed comments in full. This is not a first, of course, but it is by no means widely accepted practice either. Sharing the feedback of report readers and evaluators is a feature of reporting that we will see more of in the future.

Another interesting piece of content in this report is the attention to ethnic minorities. In China Southern Power's service area, there are 34 ethnic minorities, and the CSR Report details these.

GRI B+, 42 pages, Beverage Sector, U.S.

This report opens with a question: "How can a drink build a more sustainable tomorrow?".  While many reports use the question technique to raise issues and address them in their reporting, this is still not so widely used as a reporting practice. It's good, because reading a question immediately starts your brain ticking over to develop an answer. It engages you straight away. 
Another nice thing is the Deliver/Inspire (Deliver for Today, Inspire for Tomorrow) Spotlights inserted throughout this report. Using people to tell the story about what they have delivered and what's inspiring them is a leading-edge way to make the report come alive. It's always best if real people tell your company CSR story. Again, not a first, but definitely something we should see more of in reports.
Similarly, external stakeholder voices are included in this report, also in the form of questions. Each main section starts with a question from an external stakeholder which is responded to by a CCE exec. It's a nice touch, and an innovative practice.
Korea Railroad Association, GRI A+, 101 pages, Transportation Sector, Republic of  Korea
The thing that stuck me about this report is this:
"Media Analysis :We analyzed 3,246 media reports regarding KORAIL between 2010 and 2011, in order to identify our sustainability issues and use them in selecting issues to be reported. These issues primarily concerned consumer issues, community involvement & development and response to climate change." This was supplemented by other forms of direct stakeholder engagement in order to distill all issues into a nice-looking materiality matrix, containing 10 core issues, grouped into Emerging, Medium and High categories. The use of Media Analysis to support the materiality process is a good approach, and while other companies may do this as part of a regular business intelligence process, it is rarely mentioned in Sustainability Reports. 
Another nice touch is the way Korail sets out its future growth and development strategy, with the aspiration of becoming a Global Green Cultural Service Provider. Moving from the narrower paradigm of rail network services to a much broader role in society, Korail maps out the route to 2020 in a visual way. This forward looking approach in reporting provides context for future confidence that the company growth plans are aligned with sustainability commitments and opportunities.

Not GRI, 46 pages, Aerospace and Defense Sector, U.S.

Lockheed Martin’s 2011 Corporate Sustainability Report was designed as an interactive, electronic “book.” For those who like digital presentation in this format, it works well and enables quick navigation through active links.

What I liked about Lockheed's report is the visual presentation of diversity in its workforce demographics - including the number of Baby Boomers and Gen Xers, minorities, veterans, gender and education level.

GRI A, 301 pages (web-download), Pharma and Biotech Sector, U.S.

Merck has a dedicated report microsite,  and also a PDF download. The PDF is over 300 pages long, and, as you can imagine, goes into quite some detail. Almost every topic has its own page, some have several. One piece of detail that I liked and which you don't often find in Sustainability Reports is the breakdown of workplace injury types. I often think that workplace safety does not get enough exposure in Sustainability Reporting, despite it being one of the most essential prerequisites of a sustainable business. Merck sets out the detail of what injuries occur and how in their 2011 report.

GRI B, 81 pages, Household Goods and Textiles, U.S.

Nike shines as a leader in sustainability thinking and practice, and this is reflected in the many aspects of Nike's report that are innovative, evolutionary and very engaging. (You should check out the Nike CR website which also hosts the corporate responsibility report, if you haven't already seen it.)  In the FY10/11 report, Nike presents the conclusions of an analysis  of meta-trends (prepared with SustainAbility) - trends which have shaped Nike's sustainability strategy and approach and offer opportunities for innovation. These are presented in a form of materiality-type matrix which shows the trends that represent a risk to the current business model and those which provide business opportunity.  

Nike's own Sustainability "Considered Indexes"  for Footwear and Apparel also seem to me to be leading edge in both practice and reporting. These Indexes measure to what extent sustainability thinking has been used in the design process of Nike products (as choices at the design phase significantly influence life-cycle impacts). In fact, Nike has developed several proprietary Indexes which measure different aspects of Nike's value chain sustainability performance and impacts. The Manufacturing Index Metrics Roadmap presented in this Sustainability Report, for example,  is a transparent representation of how Nike measures and recognizes process in its supply chain. Reporting on progress in this way can certainly be considered innovative.

GRI A+, 38 pages, Oil and Gas Sector, The Netherlands

Shell is another reporter which has incorporated QR coding, and this summary report of 38 pages is the tip of the iceberg of much greater content on the Shell website (the summary report contains links to additional content). What I like about Shell's reporting is its storytelling style - every section is written in a narrative which provides informative and immensely readable context and background, which is accessible and eye-level for all readers. Is that innovative and evolutionary? Possibly. Not too many companies have mastered this art.

Also, environmental and social performance data is presented for ten years (2002-2011) which is some achievement.

GRI A+, 90 pages, Investment Companies Sector, Republic of Korea

The first thing that strikes you about this report is its cover page which presents a concept which is probably not all that familiar to most of us :)
Shinhan explains this in this way: "The essence of 'compassionate finance' lies in making the world a better place through the main businesses of finance." Yes, that's definitely innovative. The narrative spells out in great detail what Shinhan means by compassionate finance and what actions are in place to drive compassionate behaviors at this financial group.
What is  nice about the presentation of this report is that it's filled with smiling faces of Shinhan people. While I suspect that every hour at work might not be Happy Hour at Shinhan, the report does present a sense of optimism and positive spirit. That's something that more companies could learn from - without going overboard :) 

Shinhan also details the social responsibility profiles of each of the companies in the Shinhan Group - this helps stakeholders understand the different impacts of the individual components of the group, and offers those interested in specific companies a reasonable level of content. This is not frequently done by holding companies or large conglomerations in corporate-level sustainability reports. Both the group-level view as well as the detailed view by company make this report somewhat evolutionary.

Ten reports, ten examples of innovative reporting practice. Which one gets your vote? Or are you spoilt for choice?

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Insights from Ten First Time Reporters

It's time to take a look at the CRRA'13 First Reports category. Most of you know by now that I can't resist first reports. There are ten reports in the line-up this time around.
(Note: All report links go to the website where the reports in CRRA'13 are hosted, so you need to be registered to view them). 
(Disclosure: My client, GSK Romania, has a report shortlisted in this category. Of course, I think it's a fabulous first report! Of course, I think everyone should vote GSK Romania in first place!)
(Opportunity: This time around, you can win CASH PRIZES during the voting period. If you vote in all nine categories, you are entered for a weekly Voters' Draw with prizes of GBP250 every week till the voting closes at end January. Also, winners are entered into the final Voters' Draw after the voting closes and are eligible to win one of the additional GBP250 cash prizes. The weekly draw takes place every Monday morning). 

The ten first reports in the line-up this year in alpha order are:

This adds up to 678 printed pages of reporting, average 68 pages per company. (The Golders Associates Report is the only full web-based report, with a 20 page printed summary download).

The reports are from companies in 6 countries:

None of the first time reports is an integrated report.
90% of the first reporters used the GRI Framework, one did not declare a level and of the remaining eight, six are at B level, one at A and one at C. Given the interesting and important dialogue that is taking place currently about the quality of reports and the role of the GRI and its Application Level Check, I looked at how many of the GRI reporters used the Application Level Check service and three of the eight GRI declared-level reports did so.

Here is a summary of the First Reports line-up:

Now, one of the interesting things about the CRRA'13 awards, that you may not have noticed, is that each entry provides supplemental information about the report highlights and the category strengths for the reporting category it is entered in. These are located on the Report Profile Pages for each report.

Rather than provide you with my analysis of these first time reports, I thought I would share some of these insights provided by the reporters themselves.

AGCO Corp says:
"We used photography and icons as effective ways of supporting our narrative and to help readers gain access to detailed text. In addition to the narrative, we tried to incorporate several examples throughout the report from AGCO personnel. By using this method, we offer helpful insight and create a more personal feel to the document."

Golder Associates  have been extremely creative - it's worth reading what they say about their own report. Here's a taste:
"Within each category you can read as many of our short stories as you’d like – we wanted you to have the freedom to explore in their own way, rather than making the story too “linear”. Your kids will think it’s cool. We wanted to appeal to a younger generation in the graphics and the style of story writing we did. It is definitely not boring, even though we are a company of engineers and scientists."

"We are on a mission to reinforce trust in our industry, in an authentic and transparent way. This is the first report of GSK Romania, and one of only a couple of local reports for any GSK country operation worldwide. We believe that trust is built with local stakeholders, and it was important to us, given our prominent position in the healthcare system in Romania, to maintain and develop our dialogue with stakeholders with the help of a full and transparent Corporate Responsibility Report."

"We are showing that ‘telling the truth’ is in no way a disadvantage for the company and that, on the contrary, the company is highly regarded for its openness and willingness to provide all the relevant information in the right context. In this respect we are pioneers in the Czech environment."
(Note: New World Resources is registered in the Netherlands but its main activities are in the Czech Republic and Poland)

"In June 2011, POSCO Family declared the Corporate Charter, demonstrating its strong commitment to becoming a firm endeared by its stakeholders through contribution to sustainable social development and the welfare of humankind. In doing so, POSCO Family defined its stakeholders to include the society at large, business partners, investors, customers, employees, and the environment."

"The Sustainability Report describes our sustainability focus in three arenas – people, performance and the environment. It also publicly identifies six sustainability goals to be reached by 2020, based on a 2009 baseline. ..... Within the report, readers will also find......twenty-three featured “Evidence of Excellence” case studies that demonstrate our successes with initiatives implemented within the reporting period."
"The report performs as a guideline for the company to become a more responsible and sustainable organization. We believe that it has impacted the organization as a whole through this report as employees consider sustainability when conducting business activities and management considers the impact of their decisions with the mission and values of the company. It has initiated an enterprise-wide movement aimed to fulfil the three directions: transparent and responsible growth, respect for human and the environment and accompanying with partners."

"In this inaugural report, we have also included selected noteworthy historical events. Year-on-year sustainability performance metrics are provided, where available, and selected case studies are used to provide a more in-depth description of efforts on the ground. A special focus on key social issues in Liberia and Indonesia has also been provided."

"This Corporate Responsibility Report will give you an idea of where we stand and where we’re headed. Over the next several years, our company will continue to make significant investments in our equipment fleet. Our fleet team will be looking at the most advanced technologies available, not only for the purposes of safety and reliability, but also because we want to reduce the fleet’s carbon footprint, noise levels and air quality impacts."  (Actually, United Rentals didn't write a special supplementary commentary, so I took this paragraph from the report's CEO statement)
"VELUX Group believes that the quality of our lives and the quality of our environment are closely interlinked. Under the credo Sustainable Living we want to inspire buildings that give more than they take, i.e. buildings with high energy efficiency, optimum indoor climate and renewable energy sources. By numerous full-scale experiments, VELUX Group contributes to the development of carbon-free buildings with a pleasant indoor climate offering plenty of daylight and fresh air..."
Some of the commentaries that the reporting companies provide about their own reports are actually very insightful. I hope some or all of the above will entice you into taking a look and making the effort to vote in CRRA '13. The more awareness for reporting we create, and the wider the readership, the better our chances are of creating a mainstream high-quality reporting culture in which companies realize that transparency with integrity is valued. Why? Because ultimately,we all benefit.
Congrats to all these first time reporters. Good luck to all in CRRA '13!  

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via   on Twitter or via my business website  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)
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