Friday, December 18, 2009

Who will win the CERES -ACCA 2009 Awards?

This headline from CSRWire caused me to pause and take a closer look. (Well, it had reporting in the title. Couldn't pass that up!)

The fourteen shortlisted Reports selected by a panel of judges, against a detailed set of criteria under the headings of Completeness, Credibility and Communication are:

  1. AEP
  2. Baxter
  3. Bristol-Myers Squibb
  4. Citi
  5. Coca-Cola Enterprises
  6. Ford
  7. GE
  8. HP
  9. Intel
  10. PG&E
  11. Seventh Generation
  12. Suncor
  13. Sunoco
  14. Timberland

Who won in previous years  ?

Best report
GE(2008) Ford and Timberland (2007) Vancity (2006) Nike and HP (2005) HP (2004)

First runner-up for Best Report (!) 
Bristol Myers Squibb (2006)

Best SME:
Seventh Generation (2008 and 2005)

Best First Timer : 
Ball Corporation and Symantec (2008), Green Mountain and Mountain Equipment Coop (2006)

Commendations :

Innovative Reporting:Vancouver Organizing Committee for the 2010 Olympic and Paraolymipc Games (2008)
Emerging Issues Reporting : Dell (2008)
Climate Change Reporting : Suncor (2007)
Product Stewardship Reporting : Dell (2007)
Continued Excellence in Integrated Reporting : Dofasco (2005)
Continued Excellence in Social Reporting : GAP Inc (2005)

There were awards in 2002-2004, but you will have to look these up yourself.  haha.

For a report to be considered, the reporting Company must apply. This is standard for most reporting awards, I think, including CRRA 10,'s annual awards, with the exception of the GRI Reporting Awards, in which every single report published last year competes for readers' votes. 

A few things strike me as I look at the shortlist.

First, all the shortlisted Companies are seasoned reporters, some having reported since the 1990's. Guess that knocks the Best First Timer award on the head, right ? Which is a shame, as the first report is always the toughest, and often the most interesting and creative. Some Companies, once they get into the routine of reporting, produce a routine report. 

Second, as far as I can tell, Seventh Generation is the only shortlisted SME. Are they still an SME? They sure make a lot of (good) noise for a little Company. But their report, as is their leadership and general approach to sustainability, is creative, fun, serious and one of the best around. And I checked. Whilst 7th Gen does not disclose financial information, so we have no idea how many billions of $ profit they are making, they do employ only 93 full time people, which is one measure of Company size. But why is this the only shortlisted SME? Did no other SME's apply ?  Or did the judges not select the categories in advance and shortlist against category ? Either way, either 7th Gen makes it a hat-trick this year, or they go head-to-head with the big fish.

Third, there is a little thing about reporting that concerns transparency. Level of transparency is not stated explicitly as a judging criterion, though the "completeness category" (40% of the total score) includes reference to the level of detail included in the report. But if I were to take the GRI Application levels as a guide to the degree of transparency, I  find only 4 reports making the top grade (A level): Suncor, AEP, Ford and GE.

Fourth, one of the judging criteria is Assurance, part of the "Credibility" judging criterion (35% of the total score). Only two of the 14 shortlisters were assured : Bristol Myers Squibb and Suncor.

So all in all, I am going to go out on a limb and attempt to predict the winners which will be announced in January, without making any regard to content, style, tone or length of the reports:

Best Report: HP and Timberland
Best First Runners Up: Ford and GE
Best Second Runners Up: Intel and AEP
Best SME: Seventh Generation
Best Assured Reports: Bristol Myers Squibb and Suncor
Best Report that didnt Apply : Dell
Commendation for excellence in Pharmaceutical Sector reporting: Baxter
Commendation for excellence in Banking Sector reporting : Citi
Commendation for excellence in Beverages Sector reporting: Coca Cola
Commendations for not having previously won : PG&E and Sunoco

I must have picked at least one or two winners with this selection, right ? 

What I wonder, though, is that of the 500+ additional reports which were published in North America, Canada and Mexico in 2009, and did not apply for an award, which are better than the ones that will win ? 

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


Unknown said...

Great post, love the predictions for the awards! One correction, the winners will be announced in May at the Ceres annual conference (, not in January. So you'll have to wait even longer to see if your predictions are right!


elaine said...

Thanks Brian for reading, and for the correction. I saw the conf was in May, but somehow i thought the results would be announced before then. My mistake.
Oh, and in my rush to post amidst the Friday chores, I forgot to congratulate the 14 shortlisters ... so belated congratulations to all 14, and Good Luck!

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