Citizenship – a Governance Issue
Thursday, 8th November 2001 at 12:11 pm
For Australia’s top 500 companies, corporate governance and ethics are the most significant definers of what companies are doing in terms of corporate citizenship.
That’s the findings of study by Mark Glazebrook from the Corporate Citizenship Research Unit at Deakin University in Victoria.
The study suggests that corporate citizenship within the top companies is evolving as part of business planning and reporting with some going further to describe it as central to the strategic direction of their business.
Glazebrook says these companies are demonstrating their commitment through vision statements, business objectives, and overall performance measures for company directors.
The study examined annual reports, CEO statements and company publications over a 4 year period from 1995-1999 and identified those companies that describe themselves as corporate citizens and how they go about putting this into practice.
Glazebrook says they are interpreting corporate citizenship as central to the way they do business and in much broader terms that the Prime Minister, John Howard’s current focus on philanthropy is.
Significantly he says the study also reveals that philanthropy was completely absent from the profiles of companies describing themselves as corporate citizens.
He says although individual companies differ in how they go about achieving corporate citizenship, trends show the emergence of 8 key priority areas that companies are adopting to put citizenship into practice, with governance the top priority (40%).
(Source:Mark Glazebrook “How Australia’s top 500 Companies are Becoming Corporate Citizens” 2000)
Glazebrook says changes in governance practices, making company directors and CEO’s more accountable for achieving corporate citizenship, the introduction of ethical procedures and expectations and a new emphasis on valuing the importance of stakeholders are all clear signs that corporate citizenship is increasingly being viewed as a core business activity.
He says several major companies including Coles Myer, MIM Insurance and BHP Billiton now have corporate citizenship as a performance measure for the company and/or its directors.
He says Coles Myer has evolved corporate citizenship from a minor commitment in 1995 as part of its community programs section of its annual report, to locating it as part of its overall vision statement and performance expectations of its Board.
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