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Westpac Tops Corporate Responsibility Index

Thursday, 24th May 2007 at 1:43 pm
Staff Reporter
Westpac has again topped the list of the 4th Annual Corporate Responsibility Index - but the gap is closing on companies reaching the top 95%.

Thursday, 24th May 2007
at 1:43 pm
Staff Reporter



Westpac Tops Corporate Responsibility Index
Thursday, 24th May 2007 at 1:43 pm

Westpac has again topped the list of the 4th Annual Corporate Responsibility Index – but the gap is closing on companies reaching the top 95%.

According to Index results, companies representing 1.25 million employees and a total turnover of AU$520 billion have voluntarily demonstrated their commitment to corporate responsibility by participating in the 4th Corporate Responsibility Index (CRI).

Results show that 83% of companies now evaluate community, workplace, marketplace and environmental issues within their formal risk management processes.

It says the groundswell of public awareness on crisis issues of climate change and water shortage, and clear government support for voluntary initiatives has moved more companies to initiate corporate responsibility policies.

In 2006 the Parliament and Federal Government conducted inquiries into corporate responsibility. Both the Parliamentary Joint Committee and the CAMAC reports advocated that the business community take the voluntary lead in responsible business practice, in lieu of a regulatory approach.

Dr Simon Longstaff, Executive Director of St James Ethics Centre says irrespective of who wins the Federal election, it is likely that community expectations of responsible business conduct will continue to sharpen and deepen.

He says companies want a framework to work from, the public expects transparency to inform its choice, and voluntary initiatives are on the rise.

CEO of Minter Ellison Lawyers, Guy Templeton says the Index was adopted as an internal management tool to guide the growth of its program – and to utilise a framework that would help it achieve best practice.

The companies scoring 95% or above in 2006 were, Westpac, Toyota, BHP Billiton, Rio Tinto and ANZ.

Emily Albert, CRI Manager at St James Ethics Centre says in 2007 we will be engaging with these top performing CRI companies to look at what the next challenges on the journey toward sustainability might be.

Simon Longstaff says the greater challenge remains engaging the large number of companies who are not yet voluntarily reporting or benchmarking their corporate responsibility practices.

He says they tried to make the CRI more attractive by allowing companies to complete modules, or engage in private bench-marking as a first step to full participation.

He says that in 2006 these new entry options resulted in 34 companies, comprising 11 new companies, voluntarily engaging in this rigorous assessment of the integration of corporate responsibility principles into core business practices.

Over the four years of the CRI in Australia the average score of the 16 companies participating each year has increased from 80.2% to 88.7%.

Emily Albert says that some of the key challenges for companies remain in engaging stakeholders, setting and monitoring performance targets, and engaging their suppliers in sustainable practices.

The CRI is the only voluntary benchmarking tool that assists business in setting the fundamental management frameworks for corporate responsibility. A critical element to ensure quality and consistency is that all submissions are validated by an independent, professional firm, Ernst & Young. Standing behind that report, St James Ethics Centre operates as trustee of the CRI overseeing the integrity of the process.

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