Dashboard Tool Ranks Triple Bottom Line
26 June 2013 at 10:57 am
A new publicly available online tool compares the Corporate Social Responsibility of prominent Australian companies and ranks them head-to-head across a range of social, environmental and governance indicators.
Policy network Catalyst, this month released the Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) Dashboard, which draws on data from an analysis of the CSR reports of 32 companies.
Executive Director of Catalyst, Jo-anne Schofield, said it was not very common to pull together such a range of sustainability indicators.
“This kind of work gets done for investors but this is very unique in that it’s a public tool. CSR tends to be an insiders area,” she said.
Schofield said the dashboard is aimed primarily at non-government organisations and trade unions, but that she hopes it will make engagement with CSR more of a possibility for the average person.
The pool of 32 Australian companies was chosen by taking the top two companies for each sector by market capitalisation from the ASX Global Industry Classification Standard, where the applicable companies released a sustainability report.
“Companies were intentionally selected in sector-based pairs to enable direct comparisons. There was not an existing culture of benchmarking against competitors in Australia,” Schofield said.
“A comparison between Westpac and the Commonwealth Bank of Australia had already been prepared for the finance sector,” she said.
“Some eligible companies were excluded entirely because of their failure to produce a report. “
This list, made public by Catalyst, included Southern Cross Media Group, Coca Cola Amatil and Seven West Media, among others.
One quarter of included companies did not have adequate reporting to satisfy 10 or more of the 20 indicators.
Schofield said the spotlight on reporting was crucial as it was an important issue of public policy and it drew attention to the possibility of minimum standards.
While the dashboard was not developed to generate pressure for regulation of reporting, she said that she hoped it might be a possibility in the future, as a lack of reporting raised questions.
“Companies like to talk about things they are doing something about,” she said.
While the tool allows comparison on individual indicators, Schofield said the tool was not intended to rate a company’s overall performance.
There was no clear way, she said, to assign relative importance to each indicator.
Woolworths rated highly and had a strong culture of reporting, despite its emergence as Australia’s largest poker machine owner, with almost 12,000 machines across the country.
“We didn’t set out to make any ethical judgements,” Schofield said. “Building in ethical considerations is something we’re looking into for the future.”
The Dashboard in a snapshot:
32 Australian companies from the following sectors:
- Materials, Energy and Utilities
- IT and Telecoms
Indicators grouped in six topic areas developed through a review of standards and benchmarks such as the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Australian Securities Exchange (ASX) Corporate Governance Principles.
- Sustainability engagement
- Gender Equality
- Labour Standards
- Supply chain
- Community Investment
For each indicator where applicable reporting is available, each company achieves a rating on a scale of 0 to 4, with 4 representing best practice.
A rating of average is not an average within the sample, but rather, average performance according to the scoring scale developed by Catalyst to assess a company’s performance.
Catalyst has not made their scoring framework public, but say it is available on request.
Martijn Boersma, Lead Researcher at Catalyst, breaks down the limitations of relying on public disclosure here.