Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Get lost, pirates !

Had a tough day today (don''t ask!) so i thought i would take a therapeutical break and look at a report or two before i continue with a project i am working on. And quite by chance, i got to a company i had never heard of before called Moser Baer, based in India. And this opened up a whole new lexicon for me which i will now integrate into my daily conversations. For example:
Moser Baer produced their first CR report entitled Rewriting the Future
It is 53 pages and meets GRI level A application (self declared). 7,500 employees.

Chairman and CEO Deepak Puri (aside from this being poor governance, i always wonder how these guys have time to do TWO jobs?) opens with the challenges of the current economic situation, as most reports do these days (though rarely does this merit more than a passing comment in the boss's remarks, despite the major restructiring that is going on in most businesses), and comments that "GDP in India is increasing by an average of 6-7 percent, unlike the heady 9-10 percent in the preceding years." And then says that this is a "bleak"scenario. Bleak ? 7%? Well, i guess bleak is in the eye of the beholder, right ?
What is bleaker in this beholder's eye is the position of women in this business. One female director (who judging by the surname is a family member) out of a Board of 12, and zero female managers in an executive team of 10. This is despite 32% of their population being female. Hmm, wonder if its the ceiling problem (glass) or floor problem (sticky).

But what caught my eye is the material issue in the consumer electronics industry : the issue of piracy which is "eating away into the industry's vitals"! (That really doesnt sound pleasant!)
A noteworthy initiative of Moser Baer has been the formation of a body - ICRA (Indian Cinema Rights Association) an association for organizations from the entertainment space that have a stake in curbing piracy. The main objective is to conduct anti-piracy campaigns and operations at the ground level and lobbying the government primarily on evasion of excise and sales tax, copy right issues etc. The company reports having conducted 50 raids and confiscated 50,000 pirate CDs/DVDs.

Another interesting aspect of this report is the Materiality Matrix on page 15. The Company has allocated a selection of the GRI Indicators to a section in the nine-box matrix. Never seen that before. Full marks for creativity, systematicness, symmetry and logic. 24 indicators are top-right (most material issues) and 36 in the rest of the matrix. That's 60 out of 79 indicators. Problem with this approach though, is that the GRI indicators are performance indicators and really dont correlate to material issues very well. Where does piracy fit for instance in the G3? The materiality matrix is a form of prioritization but it does not demonstrate an in-depth understanding of identification and assessment of material issues, IMHO. But, notwithstanding (love that word) , impressive attempt for a first report.

I have to finish my break now, but this seems like a very intersting company and a quite a comprehensive report. Outstanding employee practices, community involvement, environmental stewardship and innovative products.It's all there. If you can get past the almost illegible design and font, this report contains quite some gems.

Anyway, in the hope that Moser Baer can succeed in their attack on electronic pirates, it remains only for me to say, "Ahoy there Moser Baer" , well done, and where's that Chunky Monkey ....

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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