ACCA opens applications for Sustainability Awards 2013

Friday, 11 October 2013 02:18 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

ACCA, which has played a key role in promoting greater transparency in reporting, invites organisations to take part in its ‘Sustainability Reporting Awards’ for the year 2013. The awards have its own panel of judges, comprising of experts from the industry. Amongst the panel of judges for this year’s sustainability awards are Professor Uditha Liyanage and Franklyn Amerasinghe, a Director of several companies, a former ILO Employers Specialist and Director General of the Employers Federation. With the key purpose of encouraging a larger participation by organisations, here they outline and elaborate on the criteria for judging and assessing entrants and deciding on overall winners, based on a set of guidelines developed by ACCA Q: What is the aim of sustainability reporting in today’s context? A: The aim of these awards is to identify and reward organisations that report and disclose their corporate performances in relation to sustainability, with transparency and demonstrated credibility. It shows the commitment of an organisation to behave responsibly in relation to all stakeholders and assure them that the organisation is economically sound and socially relevant. Q: what are the specific elements that are critical in assessing these reports? A: The judges will assess how all the impacts on the key areas such as the economy, people and planet are addressed. They will also look at the plans in place for addressing these impacts... Q: What would you consider as important criteria to be covered in each section? A: Underpinning the criteria mentioned above are three principles, that of completeness, credibility and communication. Completeness would be judged from ascertaining if the report enables the reader to form a complete view of the organisation’s operations and impacts. It should comprise the CEO’s view on sustainability, how central is this concern to the organisation and to what extent is the management’s commitment. The manner in which the key aspects of the organisations’ environment, community and financial viability is presented will also be assessed. Once the completeness of the reporting entity has been established, the credibility of the information presented becomes important. This includes having the right policies and contingency plans, appropriate personnel in place, compliance to the laws of the country, information gathering systems, management systems and targets which are designed to achieve sustainable development and accounting for sustainability projects. It will also look at the continuity of sustainability activities and its verification and audit of activities. The report will also be evaluated on the manner it communicates its information. The judges will look at simplicity, layout and comprehension of data, its understandability and readability, innovativeness of the material presented and adoption of GRI guidelines. Q: How are the marks allocated?  A: The marks allocated would be 40% for completeness, 35% for credibility and 25% for communication. Q: Could you tell us about the new categories adapted to the report? A: This year the awards will have six sectors. The first sector is manufacturing. The second comprises of banking, finance and insurance. The third is leisure and services. The area of services will also include non-profit organisations and the public sector, which we encourage to apply. The fourth would be agriculture and plantations. The fifth sector is for diversified organisations that deal with a large product portfolio of products. The sixth and final sector refers to retail and trading. Q: What is the number of awards this year? A: We will have a winner and a runner up for each sector and an overall winner and a runner up as well. Q: Is there a particular manner that the reports should be presented? A: There are no restrictions. They could include hard copy reports, and CD-ROM’s and videos, along with printed copies. Q: Can these reports add value to an organisation and give an advantage over their competitors? A: Sustainability reporting can prepare firms to avoid or mitigate environmental and social risks that might have impacts on their business. It will help organisations to gain a better reputation and win shareholder and stakeholder trust, as well as improve access to capital. Q: How has ACCA’s initiative in launching these awards benefited the local business community in Sri Lanka? A: ACCA has successfully encouraged organisations to report in a systematic and comprehensive manner, encouraging best practices and improving operating efficiency. It has also raised awareness of the importance of stakeholder involvement in assessing their performance.