Another step towards putting the relationship between business, society and the environment into the commercial mainstream was made on March 12 with the publication of the first Corporate Responsibility Index.
Published by Business in the Community, this is the first business-led, voluntary, Index, publicly benchmarking the responsible business practice of companies in a range of different industry sectors - no company was excluded because of the nature of its core business. It incorporates the results of the 7th Business in the Environment Index of Corporate Environmental Engagement.
Responsible business practice means that a company is striving to continually improve its impact on society and the environment through mainstream business practices - through its operations, products and services and through interaction with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, communities and suppliers.
BITC’s Elizabeth Forbes said that she hoped the index “will start the debate in organisations about CSR and also get companies thinking about how all departments interact in one way or another to have an impact on CSR”.
A total of 122 companies participated in the index, a much higher response than the 70 that BITC had expected. A further 15 companies said that they intend to take part next year.
Participants were 100 FTSE-listed companies, including 53 of the FTSE 100, and 22 non-FTSE members of Business in the Community. They ranged from companies who have been engaged in corporate responsibility for a number of years to those at the start of the process.
Stephen Timms, Minister for Corporate Social Responsibility, welcomed the Index saying: 'Corporate Social Responsibility has a vital role to play in our society. It's living proof that economic and social goals do not have to be in conflict. And it can address some of the toughest challenges our society faces.
”'I am delighted to see the level of participation in the first Corporate Responsibility Index. Companies in the UK are beginning to understand the business benefits of socially responsible behaviour. However more needs to be done to raise awareness and trust around these activities. I look forward to seeing many more companies take part next year.”
The Index has also been welcomed by the Association of British Insurers, the Confederation of British Industry and the National Association of Pension Funds.
The new Index is a business tool for companies to evaluate their own performance and to compare it with their peers'. It enables them to assess the extent to which strategy and values are translated into responsible practice throughout their organisation, in four key areas (community, environment, marketplace and workplace), to identify gaps in performance and make improvements.
The results of the Index are presented in quintiles, each listing one fifth of all the companies participating in alphabetical order, without identifying actual scores.
Companies in the first quintile of the FTSE listing, who all scored over 82 per cent, include 3M, BT Group, Marks & Spencer, AstraZeneca, Aviva, Tesco and Sainsbury.
Within the quintiles, ABC profiles indicate standards reached in corporate strategy and integration, and management practice across the four key areas. The average overall score achieved by participants was 67.87 per cent. In these areas, environment is the furthest advanced (71 per cent), followed by workplace (67.5 per cent), community (nearly 60 per cent) and markeplace (54.5 per cent).
David Varney, Chairman of Business in the Community and mmO2, said: “The first Corporate Responsibility Index demonstrates to stakeholders that companies are taking the lead in promoting awareness and public reporting. It will help increase trust in business and transparency in business performance.
”This is not a just a tick-box exercise. At mmO2 it challenged our perceptions and created debate within the company. It made us consider our position on a number of issues. The process was not easy for us and other companies and Business in the Community will reflect on what it has learnt so that next year's Index will be equally challenging but easier to manage.”
|PDF versions of the Corporate Responsibility Index Executive Summary and of the BiE Index are available on request from Business in the Community on 0870 600 2482 or e-mail [email protected]. Further information about Business in the Community can be found at the website www.bitc.org.uk.|