Tuesday, September 4, 2018

Back to the Future

And the CSR-Reporting Blog is back to the future🎇🎆🎈🎉🎊🍨🍨🍨. A future in which the CSR-Reporting Blog is back. 2018 has been marked by an uncharacteristic absence after almost a decade (10-year blog birthday coming up next month!). Apologies to those readers who have experienced withdrawal symptoms.... I hope you have kept up your ice cream intake despite  .. or because of ... the absence of posts from the most insightful and fun blog on CSR and Sustainability Reporting on the whole world wide web. (Modesty is exempt on this blog).

So what have I been up to since my last post way back in February? Here are a few highlights of my year so far, serving to demonstrate that, even though the CSR-Reporting Blog has been absent, I have not.

Reporting reporting reporting  
It's been an intensive year this year, again supporting clients around the world in delivering their sustainability reports and other communications. Overall, I have supported the writing and/or development of 10 reports this year, some of which will be published in the coming month(s), but all of which meant that I had a more intensive first half of the year than I might have imagined - basically sleepless - but also one of the most satisfying years at Beyond Business. Here are some of the reports I have worked on - more about these -  and the others that will publish soon - in future posts (now that we are Back to the Future).

Caesars Entertainment's ninth annual Corporate Social Responsibility Report for 2017-2018 under the theme of PEOPLE PLANET PLAY. This is the sixth report I have worked on for Caesars and each year, this company amazes me with its forward thinking, leading programs and multiple achievements. Each reporting cycle brings new challenges and but it's always fun! Caesars Entertainment Corporation is the world’s most diversified casino-entertainment provider with gaming, hospitality and entertainment offerings in several countries.

Nexeo Solutions' first Sustainability Report for 2017 is the result of an incredible journey of pulling together the different elements of sustainability practice for this global chemicals and plastics distributor and forming an overarching story about its global impacts on sustainable supply chains. This first GRI Standards-compliant report, supported by newly created corporate policy and position statements on key topics, was possible due to the dedication of the reporting team leaders as well as an entire company-wide effort.

ECI's Sustainability Report for 2017 is another fascinating chapter in the sustainability progress of an ELASTIC and sustainable future, as ECI helps us make the most of a 5G world. ECI®, a global provider of ELASTIC Network® solutions for service providers, critical infrastructures and data center operators, supports and delivers sustainable, innovative solutions and outstanding customer service, while operating responsibly and in support of the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). This is ECI's seventh annual sustainability report and I have been privileged to work on all of them.

Teva Pharmaceutical Industries 2017 Social Impact Report continues the story of Teva's global impact on healthcare and access to affordable medicines, together with new initiatives to contribute to healthy communities through safe medicines, collaboration, health initiatives and innovative research. Teva is a leading global pharmaceutical company and the world’s largest generic medicines producer, with a portfolio of more than 1,800 molecules for generic products in nearly every therapeutic area, as well as specialty medicines. Teva's report also presents six new corporate positions and policies covering charitable donations, human rights, diversity and inclusion, occupational health and safety, environment and antimicrobial resistance.

Liberty Global's 2017 Sustainability Report is another in the series of Empowering Positive Change through Technology and a masterpiece in compact, on-point and super interesting sustainability reporting. At just 20 pages with a separate downloadable GRI Content Index, Liberty Global once again is an example of relevant and focused sustainability communications as well as impressive performance. For those who don't know, Liberty Global is the world's largest international TV and broadband company.

Reporting Conferences and Events
February 27 saw the 2018 edition of the annual Smarter Sustainability Reporting Conference in London, which I again chaired. Matt Mace of edie.net summed up his views about the conference here, discussing the merits of the standalone sustainability report in the context of greater integration of sustainability practice in the business. An interesting debate, of course, as integrated reporting, which has never claimed to replace sustainability reporting, is starting to quite enjoy the promise of doing so, and even SASB, who has never claimed to be global, is starting to lay the ground for its worldwide debut. "Sustainability issues don’t have borders, and neither should our standards" claims Matthew Welch, President of the SASB Foundation, paving the way for global SASB domination. But GRI is not perturbed. According to Tim Mohin, GRI's CEO sustainability reporting is the new normal and he is optimistic that GRI will be able to lead the harmonization and alignment of standards, including SASB, to move away from the current "alphabet soup" of disclosure requirements and "stop asking the same questions in annoyingly different ways". You can engage with Tim Mohin in Singapore on October 2 as he keynotes at the second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 (#ReportingMania) which I will co-chair, alongside the incredible sustainability leader, Rajesh Chhabara.

Also in 2018, I was delighted to conduct a one-day Sustainability Reporting workshop in Tbilisi, Georgia. Organized by the Center for Strategic Research and Development of Georgia, led by the formidable Lela Khoperia, a dynamo driving the uptake of CSR in Georgia, the program was part of the Georgian Civil Society Sustainability Initiative (CSSIGE) and funded by the European Union and the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development. Participants from 18 local companies and organizations joined the workshop and I had writer's cramp signing all the certificates at the end! This is incredibly important for this young country as it continues to establish its presence and deliver economic growth - to date, no Georgian companies have reported on sustainability but, if the eagerness and application of the attendees is anything to go by, we shall be seeing a flurry of reports from Georgia in the coming years!

The Georgian speakers among you can read about the workshop in a blog post by Marika Mchedlidze.

Reporting and Human Resources Management
In the early part of the year, I collaborated with old friends from the academic world to help develop a paper entitled: "Have labour practices and human rights disclosures enhanced corporate accountability? The case of the GRI framework." authored by Sepideh Parsa, Ian Roper , Michael Muller-Camen and Eva Szigetvari. Highlights of the research and discussion include:

- Companies over-claim adherence to GRI reporting guidelines while failing to report detailed information on their workforce.
- Companies fail to provide material information.
- Limited evidence of companies acknowledging impediments they encounter when reporting on their workforce.
- Companies pay more attention to their internal (as opposed to their external) workforce.
- GRI fails to achieve enhanced comparability, transparency and accountability goals.

Serious stuff indeed ... for those interested in the intersection between CSR and Human Resources Management (HRM), this is a must-read paper (assuming you have already read my book, CSR for HR, of course!). And continuing the HRM theme, I again worked alongside Professor Michael Muller-Camen and other accomplished academics to develop a chapter in a forthcoming book for publication in 2019, “Sustainable Human Resource Management: Strategies, Practices and Challenges”. The concepts and practice of Sustainable HRM and CSR-based people practices in organizations are still overlooked by all but the most enlightened Human Resources leadership; often HR functions are bypassed as companies pursue sustainability strategies and engage employees via different channels. This continues to be a missed opportunity for the HR function, and for society. My mantra in 2013 was "It is time for HR to wake up to CSR" and it's still pretty relevant today.

More awards 
I was please to author once again the Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards annual publication, Learn from Asia's Best, showcasing examples of winning reports and what made them stand out. Check it out for some really impressive reporting approaches, designs and content.

The fourth annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Awards 2018 is now open for entries through November 2018, and I am bracing myself to close the year by putting on my judging hat together with a team of accomplished reporting practitioners and experts. I will read and review every single entry (as I have done for the past two years).  Good job that I am a reporting geek! 

Also in the last quarter of 2018, I will be joining another formidable team of judges to select the 2019 Sustainability Leaders. The UK’s largest and most prestigious sustainability awards recognize excellence across the spectrum of green and sustainable business. Entries are open till mid-September so now's a good time to think about who stands out for you on the sustainability landscape across 20 categories. 

So that's the Back to the Future round-up for the CSR Reporting Blog. Hope to maintain the pace as we move into the final stages of 2018 .. and many more exciting things on the horizon in 2019.

Thanks for reading the CSR Reporting Blog!

elaine cohen, CSR Consultant, Sustainability Reporter, former HR Professional, Trust Across America 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award honoree, Ice Cream Addict, Author of three totally groundbreaking books on sustainability (see About Me page). Contact me via Twitter (@elainecohen) or via my business website www.b-yond.biz (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm). Need help writing your first / next Sustainability Report? Contact elaine: info@b-yond.biz 

Elaine will be cochairing  the  
second annual Asia Sustainability Reporting Summit 2018 in Singapore on 2/3 OCtober. Join me there!

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