Monday, March 30, 2009

how many people does it take to write 19 winning reports ? has just published the results of the second global on-line reporting competitionCRReportingAwards08. Vodafone picked up THREE awards – "best overall report", "best credibility through assurance" and "best relevance and materiality". I guess this does prove the point that long reports win awards. 377 pages of CSR. This is the second year for Vodafone as top reporter. They deserve it. As far as I can remember, I voted for them too!

Anyway, I did a quick analysis:

  • 9 categories, 3 awards per category = 27 awards
  • 27 awards went to 19 reports. Vodafone, BP and Shell each took three awards, Coca Cola and Bayer each took two awards.
  • 2,111 pages of reporting is the sum of the 19 winning reports. The top nine first place reports weighed in with 818 pages = 38% of all the reporting pages in the winning reports. Average report length 111 pages.
  • 16 of the 19 reports are based on the GRI reporting framework = 84%
  • 8 reports are GRI A+, 3 are B or B+, 1 is C and 4 undeclared levels.
  • 8 reports were application level checked by the GRI
  • 10 reports are assured = 53% of the number of winning reports
  • USA wins the race with 6 reports, UK next with 5, Germany 3, Denmark 2, Spain , France and Australia 1 report each.
  • With the exception of the winner in the Best First Report category, only one other first place winner was a first report. All the others were third, seventh, ninth or fourteenth reporting cycles.

Based on the above analysis, I reckon that if you entered your 15th, 112- pages-long, A+ GRI checked report in USA English in every category, you had about the same chance as everybody else of getting an award. Basically, this indicates credibility in the voting process, given the range of different and varied winning reports, from different types of companies in different sectors, reporting at different levels of transparency and assurance, with different reporting styles and length. All that number-crunching just to confirm what we knew already! I eagerly await the report for an analysis of the voting and trends.

I wonder how many reporting , consulting, editing, designing, and translating hours went into writing these winning reports. Let's assume a modest average of 1,500 hours for each report. This is roughly the equivalent of employing 12.8 people for a full year. Or one person for 12.8 years. Around half a million $ of shareholder money. Doesn’t seem all that much for 19 companies, right? Wonder what the ROI in business benefit on reputation, employee recruitment and retention, risk management, stakeholder relations would be for these 19 businesses? Guess if I could answer that question, I could claim a commission on the half a million $, right? (45% would be ok, I am not greedy).

Finally, if all of these Companies decide not to report in 2009 as a result of the financial crisis, we can expect :

  • global unemployment figures to increase by 12.8 people
  • $500m additional shareholder dividend payout
  • plummeting sales of paracetamol, a well known pain-reliever for reporting freaks
  • consumer confusion as they don’t know who are the most ethical companies to buy from
  • car-park sales of CSR office furniture all over the world
  • 5,251 other potential reporting companies who now see their chance at winning the 2009 award

So, all you winners, very well done. Congratulations !

Please keep reporting. It's the sustainable thing to do.


elaine cohen is the joint CEO of BeyondBusiness, a leading reporting and social-environmental consulting firm based in Israel. Visit our website at: !

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