Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Condoms, Ice-Cream and Creating Shared Value

As a Person with a Passion for Reports, as you might have gathered, I have recently joined CorporateRegister.com as a member of the newly launched service reserved for Sustainability Reporting companies only: the CorporateRegister.com Full Membership Program!
Many of you will already be familiar with CorporateRegister.com, the largest site for hosting all forms of CSR and Sustainability Reports dating back to the early 1990s. In fact, the oldest report I could find on the site is a digital recreation of Shell Canada’s first "Progress Toward Sustainable Development" report, issued in 1991, a time during those dark days when most companies hadn't even heard of sustainable development, let alone thought about reporting on it. This was a time when there was no Global Reporting Initiative, no United Nations Global compact, no AccountAbility Assurance Standards and no ISO 26000 and almost hardly any relevant global points of reference for Sustainability Reporting. Surprisingly, or perhaps not, this 1991 report is not vastly different from many of the reports we read today in terms of the topics covered and the language used. The difference, however, is that today, CorporateRegister.com hosts 42,548 reports across 9,267 companies and 168 countries, many of which are impossible to find without laborious hours searching the Internet, and even then, 100% is not guaranteed.
In addition to helping you locate and view almost any (English Language) report that has been published since 1992 in the speed of light, the CorporateRegister.com Full Membership brings a fabulous array of tools for anyone whose profession has something to do with Sustainability Reporting, or for anyone who just likes to be in the know. Here are some of my fave features:
CorporateRegister.com has the largest, most comprehensive, most fascinating set of statistics available anywhere on Sustainability Reporting. Want to know how many reports were published in 2011? That's easy. 6,311. Want to know how many of these were published in the Netherlands? Also easy: 195 reports, 3% of the global total, following increases every single year in report output in this country.

Want to know how many of 2011's first time reporters (my favorites) were 10 billion Euro companies? At the click of a click, you can find that close to 20% of all the first time reports published in 2011 were some of the largest companies around, while the major increase is in the 1 – 10 Billion Euro companies, indicating, perhaps that Sustainability Reporting is starting to reach the suppliers of the largest companies, and a range of other companies who have realized they are no longer immune to sustainability scrutiny.


Want to know if reporters in your region use the GRI Reporting Framework?


If you are in South America, you will tend to be the odd-one-out if you don't use GRI, but if you are in North America, you have the opportunity to make your mark.
CorporateRegister.com's data includes detailed breakdowns of reports on a global basis by region, by country, by sector, and more as well as on a specific country basis by company size (revenue), by GRI adherence and by verification. You can even check how many Stock Exchange listed companies publish Sustainability Reports according to nine leading sustainability indices.


Want to know how many companies have published integrated reports? Or reporting companies participating in the UN Global Compact? A doddle. A couple of clicks and the data is at your fingertips.
As a Full Member, you also have access to very detailed sector statistics for your sector and a list of all the recent reports published.
Why is all this important? Sustainability Reporting is a dynamic field, constantly evolving, with new trends being established as we blog. Benchmarking the external reporting landscape is often an important factor in "selling in" reporting to senior management, or promoting your leadership in the reporting field externally. For example, if you are about to publish a Sustainability Report in Moldova, according to the CorporateRegister.com database, you will be only the third company ever to have produced a Sustainability Report, and if you are in Liberia, Antigua or Cuba, you will be the first reporter!
More than the trends in numbers and types of reports and countries and companies, the CorporateRegister.com Membership offers another fabulous feature which I just love.
PDF Search
This is the facility to search the contents of any Sustainability Report for any keyword over any period and any sector and any country. Suppose I am writing a Sustainability Report for a client in the electronics sector and I am interested to see who has reported on conflict minerals and how. Here we go with a PDF search for "conflict minerals" in reports published in the "technology hardware and equipment" sector during 2010 and 2011. Within seconds, I have a list of 57 reports which includes Lenovo's 2010-2011 Sustainability Report, Arm Holdings plc's 2011 Corporate Responsibility Report, Sun Microsystems Corporate Citizenship Report for 2010 (now Oracle) and a whole load more. A click on any of these report profiles immediately gives me some basic information about the report such as publication date, number of pages, adherence to GRI, AA standards and another click enables me to download the report PDF.
You can have a bit of fun with the PDF search too. I did a search for "condom" and got 1,147 results. What does that tell you? Well, two things. First, that in some companies, distribution of condoms to employees and their families is part of their Corporate Responsibility program, as reported for example by Rangold Resources in their 2010 Annual Report. When I download that report, the internal PDF search takes me right to that condom reference.

The second thing I discovered when I searched for condoms was that many of the 1,147 returned results are not only condoms, but condominiums! Haha. But that's an interesting subject as well!
Of course, I couldn’t not search for my most favourite words in the world – ice cream. Of all the reports published between 2000 and 2011, only 354 refer to ice cream. But wait, another 76 reports refer to ice-cream, the hyphenated version. And a further 23 reports refer to icecream, the one-word version. This doesn't affect the taste, however, so I am quite comforted that ice cream and ice-cream and icecream are so well represented in the world's Sustainability Reporting landscape.
Here's a little quiz – out of a selection of five classic Sustainability Report keywords, which appears in the most reports published in since 2000?
Environment - Employees - Community - Ethics - Carbon

And here are the answers:
• Environment: 26,057 reports
• Employees: 24,861 reports
• Community: 23,482 reports
• Carbon: 19,050 reports
• Ethics: 12,591 reports

Here's another interesting thing. Creating Shared Value. The new Sustainability Buzzword appeared in 46 reports in 2011 but only in 13 reports in 2010 and just 2 reports in 2007 (one of which was a Nestle report), following publication of the famous Michael Porter and Mark Kramer article in HBR exposing this concept.

Anyway, before I get carried away, the point is that this PDF search tool is an invaluable resource to know what's going on quickly in the reporting landscape and find out who's reporting what and how things are changing.

But if you are not a Full Member of CorporateRegister.com, don't despair. You can still get free access to many of the reports by signing up for a personal account which enables you to view a range of reports (up to a certain limit), access Expert Report Reviews of a range of Sustainability Reports using the CorporateRegister.com "3C" framework of Content, Communication and Credibility, offering sharp insights from reporting experts and commentators (including myself) and also view entrants and vote in CRRA, the largest global annual online report awards.

This post might sound like an advertisement for CorporateRegister.com, and perhaps it is. It's unsolicited, however, though I did request permission to share the proprietary data and charts used in this post. The way I figure it, some things are worth sharing. My request also prompted a discount for The CSR Reporting Blog readers. If you send in your Application Form quoting the code CSRBLOG before end September 2012 you will receive a 5% off published early-bird prices, and if you apply between 1st October and 30th November 2012, quoting the same code, you will receive a 10% discount off published prices, from CorporateRegister.com (No, I don't get a commission, just trying to be nice to my faithful blog followers). You can apply for Full Membership here.

Off I go now to read the 453 reports which contain ice-cream, icecream and ice cream.


elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices Contact me via www.twitter.com/elainecohen   on Twitter or via my business website www.b-yond.biz  (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)

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