Successful global companies are integrating the reporting of their corporate citizenship activities into their firms’ basic business missions, according to a recent report released by The Conference Board. The companies that have best adapted their businesses report that setting goals, measuring performance, and assessing the degree of compliance are vital to the successful implementation of citizenship initiatives.
The report describes how five of the most successful companies’ reporting practices have been integrated into their firms:
• BP – offers a detailed discussion of the impact of this energy company’s fuels and other products on the environment.
• HP – employs its technology expertise to pursue “e-inclusion” initiatives to bridge the digital divide not just in the U.S. but also in less developed countries.
• Novo Nordisk – evaluates the impact of the fight against diabetes and its other healthcare programs on the health of people worldwide.
• Procter & Gamble – conducts a product life cycle assessment to ensure that its consumer products are manufactured, used, and disposed of in a responsible manner.
• UPS – strives to realize operational efficiencies in the transportation and logistics services that it provides to customers, while minimizing the company’s impact on the environment.
While these companies are from different industries, there are some common themes that run through their practices on corporate citizenship reporting:
• Citizenship values are reflected in the discussion of each company’s core values. Because they are so central to the firm’s mission, these values are highly integrated into the firm’s operations and are given heavy weight in corporate governance.
• Each company makes extensive use of internal audits, internal and external benchmarking, and continuous improvement metrics (such as a Balanced Scorecard) continually raise the bar continually on its citizenship performance. There is a high degree of transparency in the setting of targets and detailed reporting on the degree of attainment of targets in communicating with stakeholders.
• The companies have incorporated widely recognized standards into their reporting and assessment efforts, including the Global Reporting Initiative, the AccountAbility 1000 standards, ISO 14001 on environmental impact, the United Nations’ Universal Declaration of Human Rights, and the International Labor Organization’s Tripartite Declaration of Principles Concerning Multinational Enterprises and Social Policy.
• Companies are increasingly making use of independent auditors (such as major accounting firms or NGOs) to monitor and report on their performance with regard to these standards.
“Looking to the future, the biggest growth area is likely to be in applying best practices in corporate citizenship reporting across the ‘extended enterprise,’” says Amy Kao, author of the report and a consultant in global corporate citizenship at The Conference Board. “Increasingly, companies believe that they will be evaluated not just on their own performance but on their ability to ensure that their suppliers also adhere to acceptable standards of corporate citizenship.”