Corporate Responsibility Index -UK
17 April 2003 at 1:04 pm
The UK has taken a significant step forward in the relationship between business, society and the environment with the publication of the first Corporate Responsibility Index.
Published by Business in the Community, this is the first business-led, voluntary, Index, publicly benchmarking the responsible business practice of companies in a range of different industry sectors – no company was excluded because of the nature of its core business.
Responsible business practice means that a company is striving to continually improve its impact on society and the environment through mainstream business practices – through its operations, products and services and through interaction with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, communities and suppliers.
Business in the Community says that a total of 122 companies have participated and a further 15 said they intend to do so next year – based on experience with the first Environment Index, only 70 were expected. Participants were 100 FTSE-listed companies, including 53 of the FTSE 100, and 22 non-FTSE members of Business in the Community.
They ranged from companies who have been engaged in corporate responsibility for a number of years to those at the start of the process. BITC says the results show real commitment to environmental and social issues by companies across the UK, many of whom have reported on their international operations.
Stephen Timms, the UK Minister for Corporate Social Responsibility, says Social Responsibility has a vital role to play in our society. It's living proof that economic and social goals do not have to be in conflict. And it can address some of the toughest challenges our society faces.
Timms says companies in the UK are beginning to understand the business benefits of socially responsible behaviour. However more needs to be done to raise awareness and trust around these activities. The Index has also been welcomed by the Association of British Insurers, the Confederation of British Industry and the National Association of Pension Funds.
The new Index is a business tool for companies to evaluate their own performance and to compare it with their peers. It enables them to assess the extent to which strategy and values are translated into responsible practice throughout their organisation, in four key areas (community, environment, marketplace and workplace), to identify gaps in performance and make improvements.
So far, the average overall score for the 122 participating firms in the index was 67.87%. In these areas, environment is the furthest advanced (71%), followed by workplace (67.5%), community (nearly 60%) and marketplace (54.5%). David Varney, Chairman of Business in the Community concluded that the first Corporate Responsibility Index demonstrates to stakeholders that companies are taking the lead in promoting awareness and public reporting. It will help increase trust in business and transparency in business performance.
Business in the Community is a unique movement in the UK of 700 member companies. Its purpose is to inspire, challenge, engage and support business in continually improving its positive impact on society. Its member companies employ over 15.7 million people in over 200 countries. In the UK its members employ over 1 in 5 of the private sector workforce.