Saturday, October 17, 2009

Greater CSR leadership needed in Israel

At the annual CSR conference in Israel this week, organisaed by Maala, the BSR affiliate in Israel, for the first time, an award was presented to Companies who had issued (or almost issued) more about the almost thing later.. CSR reports during the years 2007 to 2009. Actually, it's not surprising that this was the first set of awards, because the Israeli market has beed decidedly slow in uptake on the reporting front (see my previous post). It was back in 2005 when my partner, Liad Ortar, took the initiative to translate the GRI guidelines into Hebrew, making them accessible to the local market and starting a momentum for reporting in line with the global best practice. The awards were presented in order of GRI transparency levels. So, just for the record, I will run through them in that order here.

Bank Leumi published a GRI checked A+ report in 2009, covering years 2007-2008.Unfortunately, this is only in Hebrew so non-speako-the-lingo people won't get much from this, apart from the fantastic design using creations from an exhibition that Leumi sponsored for unknown artists. (Disclosure: My Company was the consultant on this report). Leumi is the largest banking group in Israel and was the first to report in 2006 with a GRI B level report (which we also worked on). 

Bank Hapoalim published a GRI checked A+ report in 2008, covering 2007. Again, this is only available in Hebrew. It is the first report of this, the second largest banking group in Israel. 

comme il faut published a GRI checked A level report in 2008, covering 2007. comme il faut is a privately owned SME with a strong CSR record and a strong reputation for responsible business practices. This was the first report for a fashion company, first for a private company, and a first  A level report in Israel . The report was published in Hebrew and in English (above link to English report). (Disclosure: We wrote this report). Aside from the high transparency for this small business, the design, as you might expect from a fashion company, is quite creative. 

Strauss Group published a GRI checked A level report in 2009, covering 2008. Strauss is an Israeli based globally active food and beverages Company. This is their second report, published both in Hebrew and English.

Partner Communications published a GRI checked level B report in 2008, covering 2007. Partner is a leading telecommunications player in Israel, and the owner of the Orange brand. As you might expect, this report is a little ... orange. Published in Hebrew and Enlgish.

DeltaGalil Industries published a GRI checked level B report in 2009, covering 2008. This first report was published in English only. Delta is a leading apparel manufacturer, specializing in underwear and casualwear, headquartered in Israel and supplying world markets.

Nesher Israel Cement Enterprises published a self declared GRI B level report in 2009, covering 2008. Nesher also reported in 2006 on environmental issues. The report is in Hebrew and not available for download (yet).

The Egged Bus Company published a self declared GRI C report in 2009, covering 2008. This is their third report, the last one being published in 2005. It is in Hebrew and not available for download (yet).

The Hannan Mor Group published a self declared GRI C level report in 2009, covering 2008-2009. This is a small traded construction company. This first report is in Hebrew and not available for download (yet). 

Intel published a local report in the spirit of GRI in 2009 covering 2008. This is a summary report , one document in Hebrew with some English and Arabic translated parts. The Intel local report falls within a local reporting framwork adopted by Intel around the world, and using the annual global report as a base. Intel is one of the two global Companies publishing local reports in our market, and this is their third such report.

Motorola Israel published a local report with a GRI index in 2008, covering 2007. This is a comprehensive report covering all CSR subjects, and the third by this local branch of the global Motorola. It was published in Hebrew and English. (Disclosure: I assured  this report)

Baran Group published a report in the spirit of the GRI in 2009, covering 2007. The report is in Hebrew and not indexed. It is a first report for this engineering Company.

Other Companies - Cellcom, the largest telecomms provider, Carmel Olefins, a polymer manufactuer and Rafael, a government-owned air defense Company, and Discount Bank, one of the four leading banks in Israel - all received awards on account of the fact that they have committed to publish before end October. Let's hope they do.

That makes 16. I think that's it. Hope i didnt forget anyone !Overall, 12 reports in 2 years .. maybe 16. Clear leadership shown by the banking sector, fashion , technology and telecomms in the wings. Some food, industrial, transportation and construction sector presence. Strong adoption of GRI as the reporting standard, but early days for a widespread approach to assurance. However, this is still  a drop in the ocean in terms of the size of the Israeli market, the level of global activity of Israeli Companies and the advanced approach to business in this country. We must continue to pust for stronger CSR leadership, accountability and transparency. If you do business with Israeli companies, demand to know what they are doing on CSR .....

What will 2010 bring ? More ? Less ? Same ?
There is no doubt that a certain momentum is in the air, and that those reporting feel the benefits in terms of internal processes and external recognition, but before you can report, you need to ensure your Company is behaving with a CSR mindset, and much of our work in the Israeli market is still about creating awareness and appreciation for CSR practices and supporting Companies in getting on board. There are, we know,  more en route, so we can be hopeful  (better not say optimistic) that 2011 awards for reports published in 2010 and 2011 may show a modest increase. I wonder if a free supply of  Chunky Monkey to all potential reporting Companies would help ?

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

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