Good corporate responsibility reporting practices are a part of successful companies
Corporate responsibility means that companies are obligated to operate responsibly within their society and outside it, too. A responsible company does business guided by laws, decrees, international conventions, recommendations, framework agreements between trade unions and companies as well as the company's own directives. In practice, companies usually aim to exceed the minimum requirement level set in these kinds of guiding documents.
– Due to efforts having been made, the quality of Finnish corporate responsibility reporting has improved. Collaborators working on the matter consist of Corporate Responsibility Network (FIBS), Suomen Tilintarkastajat, Association for Environmental Management (YJY), the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and Nasdaq, and earlier also the Confederation of Finnish Industries (EK). Additionally, School of Business Professor Raimo Loivio and his team have participated in the development of the national Reporting Competition since the early years. Moreover, members of the group have regularly given guest lectures in universities and companies on communicating and reporting corporate responsibility. During the past years, experts from LTT-Tutkimus have also participated in the work on the quality of reporting. Of course, professionals are always needed in companies to take interested in and to do the responsibility work and reporting in practice. Otherwise, the matter would not progress, says Mika Kuisma, DSc (Econ.), a member of the School of Business research group on sustainable business.
This year, there have been great developments in reporting, and the change is ongoing. In the EU, reporting corporate responsibility is becoming obligatory for larger companies, and a new feature is integrated reporting. We are also changing from version 3.1 to version 4.0 of the most significant 'standard’ of reporting corporate responsibility, the Global Reporting Initiative guideline (GRI).
– The newest GRI guidelines put an even stronger emphasis on reporting matters central to companies and interest groups, and describing corporate responsibility management. In this way, companies’ interest groups, such as investors, get even better service. The goal of integrated reporting is that for example investors get more explicit information about the future of the company while the workload brought on by reporting becomes lighter for the company. So far, there have been few clear instructions on applying integrated reporting, and there are no good practical examples, either, clarifies Mika Kuisma.
Competition motivates organisations to invest in reporting
– The Corporate Responsibility Reporting Competition was arranged for the 20th time this year. Researchers from the School of Business have been involved in the Competition since the early years. In the recent years, Mika Kuisma has represented the School of Business as a member of the organising group and as a member of the jury. Previously, Kuisma has also taken part in evaluating the reports.
The aim of the competition is to examine the current state and developing trends of responsibility reporting and to encourage all companies and organisations to report their responsibilities. The competition specifically evaluates companies’ corporate social responsibility reporting and does not take any other aspects of responsibility into account. Although well planned and realised reporting is a good tool in managing a company’s interest group relations, reporting should not take too many resources from practical corporate responsibility actions.
This year, the “Global Responsibility Performance Report 2014” by Stora Enso Oyj, a partner to the School of Business, was the clear winner of the overall competition by placing among the top in nearly all categories. One point of praise for Stora Enso from the jury was that their human rights reporting went beyond the surface level by also reporting negative events related to human rights and the corrective measures taken in these situations. The depth of reporting was clearly more comprehensively than others’. Stora Enso's report was also the students’ choice as the best report of the year. The choice was made by student groups from Aalto University and four other higher education institutions.
A total of 173 reports from companies and organisations were evaluated for the competition.
The winners of Finland's Responsibility Reporting Competition were awarded at Säätytalo in Helsinki on 25 November 2015.
A compilation report of the Competition can be found at Corporate Responsibility Network FIBS website at www.fibsry.fi.
D.Sc. (Econ.) Mika Kuisma
Aalto University School of Business
Department of Management Studies
Sustainable Business research group