Monday, May 24, 2010

GRI Readers Choice Awards 2010

The winners of the GRI Readers Choice Awards 2010 will be announced this week, on Thursday evening. Awards are always exciting, frustrating, controversial, energizing, irritating and fascinating all at the same time. Six awards will be handed out for first place (not sure if there will be awards for runners up). The awards are:

  • The Engage Award will be given for the organization whose report receives the highest number of selections by management and staff.

  • The Civil Society Award will be given for the organization whose report receives the highest number of selections from  labor unions, public institutions , academics, concerned citizens, media etc.

  • The Value Chain Award will be given for the organization whose report receives the highest number of selections from suppliers, joint venture partners, distributors/advertisers, customers, consultants and auditors.

  • The Investor Award will be given for the organization whose report receives the highest number of selections from the asset owners, asset managers, research and ratings agencies, banking and financial media

  • The Readers' Choice Award - Best Overall  will be awarded to the report which received the highest overall number of points.

  • The Most Effective Report Award will be given for the report whose objectives match their readers' expectations. The reporting organizations were invited to fill out The GRI Reporters' Survey and to identify their main objectives in sustainability reporting. The award is given for the best match of these objectives with the reasons voters voted.
This is certainly a novel approach to a reporting awards process. I wonder how this approach takes into account, if at all, the relativity of aspects of the reporting companies such as size, number of times reported, type of business. A large global reporter such as Procter and Gamble versus a Brazilian energy company Coelba whose report, as far as I can tell, was published only in Spanish? How does a first time non-profit reporter such as Uniethos stack up against an IBM or a Starbucks?  How about those companies with great reach and a massive employee base such as Walmart who probably employs more people than all the other shortlisted companies added together versus the smaller players such as the Lottomattica Group which has less than 8,000 employees, a mere couple of "big boxes" ? And what about the heavy loading of Spanish-speaking companies in the shortlist? This process has not been without criticsm, as Antonio Vives notes in his interesting blog post which I struggled to read in Spanish - he shows that 40 of the top 103 shortlisted Companies are Brazilian!    There are also  11 Greek Companies in the list.  And BP of course is also on the shortlist. Oops. Would be very interesting if the BIG OIL SPILL wins an award.

It will be interesting to see how many actually voted in these awards, as the two voting rounds were, I have to say, a tad cumbersome, as was the voting process itself, twice. I wonder how many of the stakeholders who voted actually voted for reports other than those with whom they have a direct relationship with. I wonder what insights we will gain from the results. And of course, I wonder who will win. 

The shortlist, which is not so short, includes a very wide range of reporters from many countries, and companies at many different stages of their sustainability maturity and reporting experience. Take a look at the list (which I copy pasted from the GRI Conference programme brochure, is that allowed ?) 

3M • ABB Group • ABN AMRO BANCO REAL (Grupo Santander Brasil) • Adidas Group • AES Eletropaolo • Aetna • Alpha Bank • AmBev • American Express • Apple • Aracruz Celulose • ArcelorMittal Brasil • Arcor SAIC • AT&T • Athens International Airport • Banco Bradesco • Banco do Brasil • Banco Espírito Santo • Banco Galicia • BP • Bunge • Celulose Irani • Cemig - Companhia Energetica de Minas Gerais • Centro de Integracion Librey Solidario de Argentina (CILSA) • Coca-cola Company • Coca-Cola Enterprises • Coca-Cola Hellenic • Coelba • Companhia Paranaense de Energia - Copel • COSMOTE • CPFL Energia • CSN -Companhia Siderúrgica Nacional • Dell • DKV Seguros • EcoRodovias • EDP (Energias de Portugal) • EDP (Energias do Brasil) • Eletrobrás • Eletronorte • Exxon Mobil • Fiat Group • Ford • Frigoglass • Fundacao Bradesco • Fundación Emprendimientos Rurales Los Grobo • FURNAS Centrais Elétricas • Gas Natural BAN • Gas Natural Brasil • General Electric (GE) • Gerdau • Grupo Los Grobo Agropecuaria • Grupo MAPFRE Brasil • Hering • IBM • Indian Oil Corporation • Infosys Technologies • Instituto Ecoar para Cidadania • Intel Corp • INTERAMERICAN • Itaipu Binacional • Itaú Unibanco Banco Múltiplo • Itautec • ITC • Johnson & Johnson • Klabin • Larsen & Toubro (L&T) • Lottomatica Group • Manpower Argentina • McDonalds • Microsoft • National Bank of Greece • Natura Cosmeticos • Nestle • OTE • PEMEX • Pfizer Mexico • Piraeus Bank • Polymer Group, Inc. (PGI) • Procter & Gamble • Reliance Industries • Roche Brasil • Sadia • Starbucks • SulAmerica • Tata Motors • Tata Steel • Telefonica Argentina • Terna • TITAN • Tractebel Energia • U.S. Postal Service • UniEthos • Unilever • Unilever Brazil • Unimed-Rio • UnitedHealth Group • Usiminas • Vale • Vodafone Greece • Vodafone Group • Volkswagen Group • Votorantim Celulose e Papel • Walmart Brazil • Wal-Mart Stores • Wipro Limited

Well. Recognize any big names? If these reporting awards follow the reporting award trends we see in other award programs, more likely than not, the big names that we are used to seeing win awards will win again. So I am going to go out on a limb here and suggest ones I think will win in each category. These are NOT NECESSARILY the ones I think SHOULD win, or the ones I think are best. Just my predictions based on factors which have largely nothing to do with the reports themselves.

If I get 4 out of six winners, Chunky Monkey on me in Amsterdam after the awards announcement :-) If I get less than 4, I will treat MYSELF to an extra large scoop hahaha.

  • Engage: Telefonica Argentina  OR Banco Bradesco OR Coca Cola Enterprises
  • Civil society: Banco Spirto Santo OR Manpower Argentina OR UniEthos
  • Value Chain: Vodafone Group OR Ford OR Frigoglass
  • Investors: Procter and Gamble OR Volkswagen Group OR  ABN AMRO Banco Real
  • Best Overall: Natura cosmeticos OR Vodafone Greece OR Electrobras
  • Most Effective:  Tata Steel OR Gas Natural Brasil OR Nestle

Haha. Any thoughts ? What reports would you pick ?

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

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