CSR in the Australian banking sector – Westpac

January 29, 2007

Westpac has released its sixth non-financial Stakeholder Impact Report, available at www.westpac.com.au/corporateresponsibility.

The 2006 report is based on the ‘G3’ GRI guidelines, and sets out Westpac’s extended performance in building human, social and environmental capital. It also includes contributions from a number of thought leaders, suppliers and community advocates.

In the past year, Westpac has:
point Committed to the revised Equator Principles – the only Australian bank to do so;
point Launched two new ‘green’ products: the EcoNomical Home Loan and the Westpac Landcare Term Deposit account;
Continued to reduce greenhouse gas emissions –cutting emissions by over 45% since 1996;
point Contributed a total of AU$47m to the community, 1.4% of pre-tax profits; and
point Celebrated 30 years of partnership with Surf Life Saving Queensland.

The report again emphases the links between sustainability and shareholder value, with Westpac CEO, Dr David Morgan, stating that managing social, environmental and workplace performance, along with stakeholder relationships and other intangibles, is fundamentally linked to long-term shareholder value.


Dramatic global rise in corporate responsibility reporting

August 4, 2006

A record number of leading global companies are voluntarily reporting on social and environmental issues, according to a report published today (Global Corporate Responsibility Reporting Trends 2006) by the corporate responsibility consultancy ‘Context’.

The Context report, based on information from the CorporateRegister.com database, analyses reporting of the world’s 300 leading public companies. It shows:
point Only 10 of the top 100 in Europe do not report;
point A majority of the US top 100 now publish a report;
point Most companies report on a wide range of issues rather than focusing solely on environment or philanthropy;
point The majority of European reporters use external assurance to validate their reports, but this is less common elsewhere and very rare in the US; and
point A growing number of these companies acknowledge the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines, but very few are formally “in accordance” with them.

But there are still question marks about the quality of reporting, Context directors argue:
Experienced reporters are eager to escape conformity with informal reporting standards to produce more effective communications;
point Companies need to focus on key issues, but find guidance on “materiality” issues unhelpful; and
point Reports need to be part of a process of improving performance and are not an end in themselves.


An increasing number of US Companies are reporting on their Environmental and Social Performance

July 17, 2006

A third more top US companies are issuing corporate social responsibility (CSR) reports this year compared to last, according to a survey of company websites.This year 79 companies in the S&P 100 index dedicated special sections of their websites to information on their social and environmental performance. This was 34% more than in the 2005 survey by the Social Investment Research Analysts Network (SIRAN).

In the last year a dozen companies issued CSR reports for the first time, including Cisco Systems, General Electric, Time Warner and Wells Fargo.

However, only one company – General Motors – met all seven reporting criteria set by KLD Research & Analytics, the Boston-based investment research firm which conducted the survey. These criteria include the extent of their reporting, whether they set goals and benchmarks, and the degree to which they follow the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines.

A third of the S&P 100 index (34 companies) are basing their reports on the GRI’s guidelines on sustainability reporting, the survey revealed. This was up from 25 companies in 2005, SIRAN said.