Thursday, April 22, 2010

Who didn't win the CRRA 10 awards?

Following previous posts on the Winners of CRRA '10  and insights on CSRWire and VODAFONE and 888 Holdings, and after congratulating  the worthy winners, I thought it might be worth taking a look at the ones who didn’t win. I have picked one entry in each of the nine categories which in my view deserves a mention. I left out reports which were voted in one of the top 5 places in each category. I think I will call this the Chunky Monkey Alternative Reporting Awards. CMARA for short. hahahaha.

Best First Time Report:
Corporate Express Australia, 2008 Sustainability Report 
46 pages, GRI B level, GRI checked, not assured. Corporate Express is a leading supplier in Australia of business supplies and IT solutions. The report is clear, nicely but not overly designed, well but not simply written with no pithy CSR-speak fillers, constructed in a format which I find appealing – the four areas of impact – marketplace, workplace, environment and community – with clear targets for all sections and evidence of deep consideration in the management of sustainability. Watch out for their next report in coming up in September 2010.

Best SME Report:
Spring Romance Properties 34 (Pty) Ltd, Sustainability Report 2008, Impahla Clothing.
37 pages, GRI B+ level, third party checked. This Company has a great name and a great history. With a cover stating Impahla to be "SA's first carbon neutral garment manufacturer" and showing thumbnails of Impahla clothing's employees, who are photographed all the way through this report, Impahla shows SME's how it's done. Impahla is a supplier of the sportswear leader PUMA, and participated in 2006/7 in a project to drive CSR reporting through the supply chain, led by the GRI in partnership with leading multinationals.
Impahla is a privately owned African Company with just under 90 employees, of which 87% are female and 97% are non-white, manufacturing a mere 176,000 garments per year. They started exporting only in2008, and are realizing impressive growth. Their learnings from embedding sustainability processes and reporting are worth reading. Concrete examples quoted are increase in sales by 15.8% and reduction in electricity consumption by 40% per garment. This second report is a delightful, highly readable, professional and informative model for SME's everywhere covering high level material issues such as the use of technology through to day-to-day developments including team achievements such as "Appointment and training of Joyce as our first Shop Floor Safety Officer". Read it!

Best Integrated Report:
CEBU HOLDINGS Integrated annual and Sustainability Report 2008 
CEBU Holdings is a real estate and property development Company in the Philippines and this is their second Integrated Annual Report. I make no secret of my reservations about integrated reporting, and the challenge of combining financials and non-financials in one report in a way which adds value over separate reports, however, CEBU make as respectable job of this as one can expect, with a GRI Level B report. The report is nicely designed with wonderful photography. Whilst pages 85 through 135 are financial statements, irrelevant for the sustainability professional, the sustainability section is strong, clear and demonstrates a systematic and logical approach to CSR. Their list of stakeholders and engagement processes is the longest I have ever seen, and stakeholder commentaries are a nice addition.

Best Carbon Disclosure:
AMCOR Ltd  Sustainability Report 2009 
Amcor is a packaging Company based in Australia, and this 50 page, GRI B+ report is straightforward and systematic, identifying the key sustainability challenges for the Company and reporting in detail on what Amcor is trying to achieve and how they are going about it. Carbon disclosure is well covered with details of emissions by operating location as well as an extensive environmental section.

Best Creativity in Communications:
WPP Group Corporate Responsibility Report 2008/2009 
This 91 page, seventh CSR report from WPP Group is nothing if not creative! The designs is incredibly fun! The report is not only design, however, and includes serious and professional content about WPP's approach and programs in all relevant CSR and sustainability areas. Several case studies from P&G, Unilever, Timberland and more provide evidence of the WWP CSR approach in action and the report includes a pro-bono showcase which I am sure must be the pride of the Company. 

Best Relevance and Materiality:
Catalyst Paper Corporation Sustainability Report 2008 
I have always been a fan of this Canadian paper manufacturer's reporting, and this 6th report under the heading of "Decisive action in changing times" is another great effort. It's a 40 page GRI C report, focusing strongly on the impacts of the financial crisis and the need for decisive action which included closing a paper mill and issues of profitability as a basis for sustainability, reversing the modest losses of 2008. A good report by a company committed to sustainable business. 

Best Openness and Honesty:
Jubilant Organosis Corporate Sustainability Report 2008 
This a pharma and life sciences Company based in Uttar Pradesh in India, owned 50% by the founders with the remaining shares held by fincnaial organizations and the public. The Company has been reporting on sustainability for years and this report is a good example of a non-nonsense approach to reporting. Key material issues have been identified, including, for example, the shape of expoxy putty (who could have guessed?!) and the report presents a good selection of data in its 61 pages, confirming with GRI A+ level. It's a little wordy, but presents a good picture. 

Best Credibility through Assurance:
Ericsson Corporate Responsibility and Sustainability Report 2008 
This is a nice report which goes straight into the discussion of the Company's most relevant issues, including 5 top issues from employees and top issues from customers and investors. It's a 42 page GRI B+ level report, assured by Det Norske Veritas who generally produces good statements. This one is a little short, and lacks recommendations for the future, but a nice touch is a case study of the DNV team in verification of the China office and other places. The inclusion of the verification process in the body of the report rather than only as an isolated statement at the end is an innovative idea, and adds to understanding and credibility of the assurance process.

And for the BEST Report, I select
CASCADES Inc 2008 Report on Sustainable Development 
Partly due to my weakness for first time reports, and partly because this is a nice report, and partly because I left this to the last, and I have already picked most of the other reports I would be prepared to give a non-winners award to, I selected CASCADES Inc. This is a paper and packaging Company based in Canada, employing 13,000 people in the USA and in Europe. Their report, which is a 60 page first timer, following the GRI at an undeclared level but containing a full GRI index, is brilliantly creative in its design, rather off-beat, not easy to engage with, actually, with a mix of bold statements filling one page each, strong visuals and very detailed pages with relevant content. However they get their message across, for example, in a plea for greater recycling, the backbone of their business, they ask "As citizens of this planet, who are we to throw out 50% of our potential raw materials? ". It's a report worth taking a look at, if only to learn more about the creative ways a Company can deal with environmental impacts, and how to make an impact with your reporting style. 

The above is a collection of great reports and great reporters, well worthy of the Chunky Monkey Alternative Reporting Awards. Each one, produced with care and commitment, and many with great skill. Each one, the baby of someone. As I read through all these reports, I can't help but wonder why there is such a great outcry against the Sustainability Reporting movement. These reports are filled with such insights, such fascinating stories of people, businesses, communities and in some cases, wonderfully expressive pictures. You may call me obsessive, and I have been called worse, but I love these reports and believe they serve great value. One thing: Give reporters your feedback because as good as they are, they can all be better.

elaine cohen is the CEO of Beyond Business, a leading social and environmental consulting and reporting firm. Visit our website at 

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