Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


Mecu scoops sustainability reporting award

September 2006

The Australian financial institution Mecu has taken first place for the best sustainability report in the 2005 Australia and New Zealand Awards for Sustainability Reporting.

The judges for the awards, which are given by Association of Chartered Certified Accountants, said Mecu’s online report was ‘particularly sophisticated’.

The company’s approach was well enunciated, said the judges. They commented: ‘Mecu have built their proposition around the raison d’etre for credit unions, which is community- and society-driven. This allows them to have a very clear picture of their role in sustainability. This extends to both their direct impacts and, more importantly, to their indirect impacts, which offer the most scope to benefit society.’

Watercare Services, a New Zealand company, took an award for continued high-quality sustainability reporting. Its objectives were clearly outlined and the report was comprehensive in identifying sustainability reporting, said the judges. However, they believed the company should include more innovative aspects in its report.

The award for continued high-quality reporting among smaller companies went to Australian Ethical Investment, whose report gave a ‘good feel’ for the priorities of the organization and how it wanted to position itself among its peers and in the community.

The Australian company BHP Billiton, which took the award for sustainability communication using the internet, was congratulated on a web report that was more significantly developed than that of any other reporter. The judges said its transparency in giving an insight into its performance was ‘warts and all’ and increased credibility. Nevertheless, the report was criticized for not being complete.

Commendations for achievements in sustainability reporting went to Vodafone New Zealand, whose report discussed stakeholder engagement, URS New Zealand, an environmental and engineering consultancy, which covered most issues related to business, and IAG New Zealand, whose stakeholder views filtered through, though it failed to cover such matters as robust environmental and social data and a comprehensive assurance process.

The judges regretted that so few companies produce sustainability information – only 24 per cent in Australia and possibly fewer in New Zealand.
They welcomed a high standard of reporting among water companies but said: ‘It would be useful for more companies in this sector to report on the quality of their assets – for example, pipes and other related infrastructure. Given so many water companies report sustainability data, the judges would also like to see more comparative data included in reports so as to facilitate benchmarking between the organizations.’

One complaint was that not all the reports were independently verified. The judges recommended that reports be assured by an appropriate third party to increase confidence in the reliability of the information provided.

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