Ethical Performance
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Reports should provide more context, say accountants

January 2009

Two leading accountancy bodies have warned European companies they should not rest on their laurels when it comes to their sustainability reporting.

The Association of Chartered Certified Accountants (Acca), which organizes the Awards for Sustainable Reporting, has named BT as the winner of the UK’s main sustainability reporting title for the second year running.

Unilever and the Co-operative Group were runners-up in the main award category, while Shell was praised for its use of electronic media in its reporting.

However, Rachel Jackson, Acca’s head of social and environmental issues, said: ‘It is still difficult to ascertain where organizations sit within the context of sustainable development, and clearer clarification from organizations will be required in the future.’

The awards follow a discussion paper on sustainability information in annual reports by the Federation of European Accountants (FEE), which maintains that integrated sustainability reporting ‘needs improvement’.

Like Acca, FEE said it was worried that companies are not doing enough in their reports to show how they ‘integrate CSR fully into their business strategy and decision-making’.

FEE was especially critical of what it characterised as tokenistic gestures in annual reports that marginalize sustainability. It said: ‘Simply providing cross-references to the separate sustainability report is not sufficient. A description of the main issues... relating to the sustainability domain needs to be included in the annual report itself.’

Association of Chartered Certified Accountants | Europe | Sustainability Reporting

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