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Home Últimas noticias Corporate responsibility improves

Financial Times

By Alison Smith, Chief Corporate Correspondent

Only one in 20 of the world’s largest companies now fail to report on corporate responsibility (CR) activities, but most of those that fail to do so are based in the United States, according to a survey by KPMG.

The study found that among 250 of the biggest global companies, 95 per cent produce CR reports, with North America accounting for two-thirds of those that do not.

Although the overall level of CR reporting has increased significantly since the previous exercise in 2008, less than half these 250 companies said they gained financial advantage from doing so, for example through achieving cost savings or gaining new sales of “green” products.

Wim Bartels, the KPMG partner who led the survey, identified two factors in the relatively lower levels of CR reporting in the US.

“For a long time, America didn’t care so much about worldwide issues such as water scarcity that did not affect it directly, so US companies have been slower on picking up on these themes.”

He said also that US companies were sensitive about the levels of public scrutiny and possible litigation to which they might be subject, and so did not want to publish data that might not be wholly reliable.

“In Europe, the attitude is more ‘let’s do the best we can and we will try to improve over time’ but in the US they want to be fully sure they are using the right numbers.”

The KPMG study, which looked at the 100 largest companies in 34 countries, found that 83 of the US companies included in the survey now report CR activities, up from 74 in the 2008 study. This compares with 94 of the 100 largest companies in France, 88 in Spain and in Brazil and 62 in Germany. The 100 companies covered in the UK all make CR reports.

The biggest advance since the 2008 survey was in South Africa, where the number of the 100 largest companies with CR reports rose from 45 to 97, after it adopted a corporate governance code requiring comprehensive business reporting last year.

Mr Bartels said that as companies saw benefits such as lower energy bills from CR initiatives then the activity would move from just being a demonstration of social concern to being a business imperative. But he admitted that the 47 per cent of the largest 250 companies showing financial benefits from CR reporting suggested it was not there yet: “47 per cent is still maybe not convincing enough”, he said.

As in the 2008 study, companies whose activities clearly have a great impact on the environment, such as those in mining and forestry showed the greatest commitment to CR reporting, The least committed sector, with only just over half bothering to make CR reports, was retail and trade. Mr Bartels said this was hard to explain. “Typically, it’s those sectors that are further back in the supply chain or business-to-business that tend to be a bit slower in picking up developments like CR, But with retail you might expect customers to start paying attention to it.”

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