Thursday, October 15, 2009

Opportunities for CSR reporting professionals

Yesterday, in Israel, at the annual CSR conference organized by Maala – Business for Social Responsibility (the BSR affiliate in Israel), awards were made to Companies that have produced CSR reports during 2007-2009 (including those who have committed to publish reports by end October 2009). The purpose of the award was to create awareness for reporting in a country where reporting has been slow off the mark and relatively slow in uptake.
17 awards were made. I will blog about these reports in my next post. In the meantime, I thought I would check out how Israel is doing in the league table of reporting.
The reports database allows a good review of numbers of reporting countries. It may not be 100% comprehensive, but I believe it hosts over 90% of all reports issued, so I am happy to use this data to review reporting output. In total, during this period, 8,663 reports were published – an average of around 2,900 reports per year.
I analyzed reports published in 175 countries (some of which I didn’t even know were countries) during the period 2007-2009:
  • 42% had NO businesses which reported on the Corporate Responsibility
  • 36% of countries published between 1 and 25 reports
  • 20% of countries published between 26 and 500 reports
  • 2% (4 countries) published over 500 reports each.
Of the 36% of countries who published between 1 and 25 reports, over 80% published between 1 and 5 reports during this 3 year period.
The  league table of reports published during 2007-2009 is as follows:
USA - 1042
UK - 1034
Japan - 817
Spain - 517
Australia - 484
Germany - 452
Italy - 418
Canada - 367
France - 364
Brazil - 276
The Netherlands - 264
South Africa - 229
Switzerland - 211
Sweden - 205
Finland - 174
Israel is number 53 in this list of 175 countries. (This is based on 8 reports shown on during this period).

I cross-checked the level reporting to size of the economy. I used the GDP per country based on GDP 2006 published by the Economist.
This shows a very different league table. The countries publishing the most reports per US$ Billion of GDP are: South Africa, Finland, Portugal, Chile, Australia and Switzerland, each of whom have published a report for every US$ 5 billion GDP or less in each of the three years between 2007 and 2009.
Here is the league table showing the rate of publication of reports relative to US$ Billion of GDP per year 2007-2009 (eg. South Africa published one report per US$ 3 billion GDP per year):
South Africa - 3
Finland - 4
The Netherlands-8

Only Australia is in the top 5 in both tables, showing a strong reporting ethos which correlates to the relative size of their economy. Well done Australian reporters!Saudi Arabia is the 23rd largest economy and has published no reports at all and Iran is the 31st largest economy and published only 1 report. Israel is the 42nd largest economy in the world based on the Economist figures, and number 35 in this league table of reports by $US billion GDP (one report for US$53 billion GDP. )
So why is all this important? (It’s not so important, really, but once I started thinking about it, I just had to check it out). Perhaps it shows that reporting leadership, as most other things, is relative and can be benchmarked. The world’s leading economies – US, Japan, Germany, China and Britain - produce large numbers of reports in absolute terms but not in relative terms to size of economy. Perhaps it shows that most of the world leading economies are on the reporting train, and that there is some awareness of responsible business practice in these countries, which should continue to develop. Perhaps it shows that the 74 countries who do not report at all are fertile ground for CSR consultants, assurers, report designers and printers. So if you are a CSR professional in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Macedonia, Malawi, Togo, Uzbekistan or Yemen…. seems like there is an opportunity for you out there!

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

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