Are Awards a Barrier to Sustainability Reporting?

CorporateRegister.com announced the winners of the CR Reporting Awards 2010 (CRRA ‘10).  The Award winners were selected from 128 report submissions published between October 2008 and October 2009. This year saw increased voter participation with around 8,000 votes (40% more than in 2009). But  are these types of awards a barrier to Sustainability Reporting?

The CRRA 2010 Award winners are listed below:

  • Best report – Vodafone Group plc
  • Best first time report – The Walt Disney Company
  • Best SME report – RecycleBank LLC
  • Best Integrated report – Novo Nordisk A/S
  • Best Carbon Disclosure – Hewlett-Packard Company
  • Creativity in Communications – Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc
  • Relevance & Materiality – Vodafone Group plc
  • Openness & Honesty – Virgin Media Inc
  • Credibility through Assurance – Banco Bradesco SA

With few exceptions, many awards seem to be 'recycling' the names from the same group of companies year on year. Do you think that these types of awards encourage reporting or do these awards create an entry barrier for first time reporters?

11 Comments to Are Awards a Barrier to Sustainability Reporting?

  1. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by FabianPattberg, namrata rana. namrata rana said: RT @FabianPattberg: Reading: Are Awards a Barrier to Sustainability Reporting? http://j.mp/aifkCE #csr […]

  2. elaine cohen says:

    hi, I couldnt resist respondng to this one ! Answer: of course not. Awards neither encourage nor discourage reporters to write reports. However, they do offer a route to greater awareness and recognition for reporting.

    Of the 130 entries in CRRA 10, i believe around 60 were first tine entries. This includes the 21 first time reporters and many of the 12 SME entries who entered the awards for the first time. Many of the winners are repeat winners, sometime in the same, sometimes in different categories, but if you look at the top scoring reports including the runners up, you will find that it is not always the same reports who are recycled into winning place. In 3 years, 15 companies came in 1st place in one category or another, but across the top 3 winning places, over 40 different companies won. Having said this, there is something about the best reporters that does show how they report well time and time againand deserve to win.

    See my coverage of CRRA on my blog http://www.csr-reporting.blogspot.com

    regards, elaine

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  4. Thanks for your comments, Elaine. Good points (and good blog post) – and I do like to look at the SME and 1st time award winner categories. Although deserving kudos for continued good efforts (amongst the typically largest, listed companies), I am not sure if I doubt BP or Vodaphone’s ability to score another top-spot or feel the need to celebrate that Disney (!) wins in the first-time (!) reporting category… I like to see more efforts (and awards) resulting in more sustainability reporting instead of acknowledging the good efforts of the ‘usual suspects’… Best, Mehrdad

  5. Stine says:

    Thanks for starting this interesting discussion! I head up Radley Yeldar’s research into CR/Sustainability best practise within CR/Sustainability reports.

    Because of the way the winners are chosen, I think the awards end up going to companies who have been good at POSITIONING THEMSELVES as sustainability leaders.
    I doubt many people will have read through all the 128 submitted reports with a set of criteria in mind. People are likely to vote for companies whom they know/have heard have are “good at sustainability” without necessarily actually reviewing the reporting as such. If you want to focus solemnly on the report themselves, defining criteria for what one is looking for and having panels reviewing them is probably more effective. Having said that, I think we should welcome all initiatives comparing company performance and communications as they create debate and they ultimately serve different purposes.

    Regards,
    Stine

    If you want to have a look at more research into reporting, go here: http://www.howdoesitstackup.co.uk/cr/
    (This year’s research will be out in September).

  6. Many thanks for your comments and the link, Stine. I would agree with your note that “we should welcome all initiatives comparing company performance and communications as they create debate and they ultimately serve different purposes.” Any suggestions how such awards (or other initiatives) can be used to encourgage more first-time reporting? I will also take a closer look at the link provided. Cheers, Mehrdad

  7. Marcy says:

    Taking nothing away from the winners of these awards, because many of them do a bar-raising job of reporting, I think awards like these are barriers to good sustainability reporting. I have seen many companies driven not by the benefits of reporting for the sake of transparency and moving along their sustainability journeys, but for the sake of winning PR awards. Certainly some awards are more meaningful than others in terms of pushing forward sustainability reporting. But there are many awards out there – more emerging all the time – that are meaningless when it comes to a company’s actual sustainability reporting.

  8. Thanks for your note. Yes, there seems to be a PR benefit which can be captured with sustainability-type reporting. But PR benefits can also be generated with many other approaches…. It would be interesting to find out the costs associated with such award winning reports. Are there any numbers ‘out there’?

  9. […] Are Awards a Barrier to Sustainability Reporting? […]

  10. […] The GRI Readers’ Choice Awards are decided by report readers (not expert judges). In 2008, Europeans were the largest regional group of participants. In 2010, the crown obviously went to Brazil. List of winners & runners-up is provided below. For detailed information on how the finalists were determined and voting patterns, please click here.  See aslso my previus blog postings: Are Awards a Barrier to Sustainability Reporting?  […]

  11. […] suspects” – can actually be linked to uptake of sustainability reporting (about which I blogged here). Is it time to come up with new kinds of awards or approaches to increase uptake of […]

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