Integration of CR in Australia & NZ – New Report
Wednesday, 19th May 2010 at 3:42 pm
A new research paper from the Centre for Social Impact at the University of NSW shows that corporate responsibility is, on the whole, well integrated into the way that leading companies in Australia and New Zealand are doing business.
The researchers say that this is evidenced by the companies’ approach to leadership and governance and a range of management practices in risk management, strategic decision making, stakeholder engagement, training and development, performance management and reporting.
Nevertheless, they say that several areas where companies could improve their performance with respect to CR integration are identified and include: ensuring that CR training and CR criteria are part of the incentive structures at Board level, improving the extent and quality of stakeholder engagement, extending CR reporting to incorporate a comprehensive measurement framework and undertaking higher levels of external assurance of CR activities, systems and reports.
The research was carried out by Dr Gianni Zappalà who is an Associate Professor at the Centre for Social Impact, UNSW; Adjunct Associate Professor at the University of Sydney and Director of Orfeus Research, along with research assistant at CSI, Sarah Adams.
The paper says almost all companies (98%) have a documented strategy, strategic action plan or set of principles for delivering on their corporate responsibilities as defined within their corporate values, covering all the various domains of CR (Community, Environment, Supply chain and Workplace) equally.
Dr Zappalà says there are several points regarding the reporting of CR issues that can be made. First, while the majority of companies report on CR activities a degree of variation exists by the respective CR domains, with Community being most likely to be reported on (92%) and Supply Chain the least (66%). Second, fewer companies extend their CR reporting into a comprehensive measurement framework by identifying key performance data and charting their progress against targets.
The report says while 92 per cent of companies report and describe their key community issues for instance, four out of five provide data for their community issues and activities area and only half report their progress in achieving their CR targets with respect to Community.
Third, he says assurance of CR reporting and data remains the exception even among this group of companies that are generally ‘CR aware’ and many considered CR leaders. The rate of assurance is considerably lower than the proportion of companies that report key performance data (e.g. for the Consumer domain 70% report key performance data while it is only assured in 30% of cases; for the Environment domain, the figures are 78% and 42% respectively).
The paper analysed the CRI in Australia and New Zealand to examine the extent and type of CR integration.
Dr Zappalà says there are a number of research limitations and implications.
He says while this paper gives a good insight into the extent and type of CR integration, the small sample size did not enable the use of sophisticated statistical techniques, so the analysis is restricted to simple descriptive statistics.
He says the sample is not representative of the broader population of firms in Australia and NZ, rather an atypical sample comprised of companies that have chosen to participate in the CRI. By implication, these are usually companies that have accepted the merits and necessity of CR and have a strong commitment to its successful implementation within their organisation.
He says the paper therefore enables insights into the practice of CR integration among a group of leading firms in terms of Corporate Responsibility.
The Paper can be downloaded at www.csi.edu.au/uploads/31642/ufiles/CSI-Issues-Paper-No.-9.pdf