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First Corporate Responsibility Benchmark Published

Submitted by: Business in the Community

Categories: Corporate Governance

Posted: Mar 11, 2003 – 11:00 PM EST


Mar. 11 /CSRwire/ - A significant step forward in the relationship between business, society and
the environment is made today (Wednesday, March 12) with the publication of the first Corporate Responsibility Index. Published by Business in the Community, this is the first business-led, voluntary, Index, publicly benchmarking the responsible business practice of companies in a range of different industry sectors - no company was excluded because of the nature of its core business. It incorporates the results of the 7th Business in the Environment Index of Corporate Environmental Engagement.

Responsible business practice means that a company is striving to continually improve its impact on society and the environment through mainstream business practices - through its operations, products and services and through interaction with key stakeholders such as employees, customers, investors, communities and suppliers.

Business in the Community is very pleased that a total of 122 companies have participated and a further 15 said they intend to do so next year - based on experience with the first Environment Index, only 70 were expected. Participants were 100 FTSE-listed companies, including 53 of the FTSE 100, and 22 non-FTSE members of Business in the Community. They ranged from companies who have been engaged in corporate responsibility for a number of years to those at the start of the process.

The results show real commitment to environmental and social issues by companies across the UK, many of whom have reported on their international operations.

Stephen Timms, Minister for Corporate Social Responsibility, welcomes the Index saying: 'Corporate Social Responsibility has a vital role to play in our society. It's living proof that economic and social goals do not have to be in conflict. And it can address some of the toughest challenges our society faces.

'I am delighted to see the level of participation in the first Corporate Responsibility Index. Companies in the UK are beginning to understand the business benefits of socially responsible behaviour. However more needs to be done to raise awareness and trust around these activities. I look forward to seeing many more companies take part next year.'

The Index has also been welcomed by the Association of British Insurers, the
Confederation of British Industry and the National Association of Pension Funds.

The new Index is a business tool for companies to evaluate their own performance and to compare it with their peers'. It enables them to assess the extent to which strategy and values are translated into responsible practice throughout their organisation, in four key areas (community, environment, marketplace and workplace), to identify gaps in performance and make improvements.

The results of the Index are presented in quintiles, each listing one fifth of all the companies participating in alphabetical order, without identifying actual scores.

Companies in the first quintile of the FTSE listing, who all scored over 82%, are:

BT Group
Marks & Spencer
Shell International
Dow Chemical Company
National Grid
Rio Tinto
J Sainsbury
Waste Recycling Group

Within the quintiles, ABC profiles indicate standards reached in corporate strategy and integration, and management practice across the four key areas. The average overall score achieved by participants was 67.87%. In these areas, environment is the furthest advanced (71%), followed by workplace (67.5%), community (nearly 60%) and marketplace (54.5%).

David Varney, Chairman of Business in the Community and mmO2, concludes: 'The first Corporate Responsibility Index demonstrates to stakeholders that companies are taking the lead in promoting awareness and public reporting. It will help increase trust in business and transparency in business performance.

'This is not a just a tick-box exercise. At mmO2 it challenged our perceptions and created debate within the company. It made us consider our position on a number of issues. The process was not easy for us and other companies and Business in the Community will reflect on what it has learnt so that next year's Index will be equally challenging but easier to manage.'

The Index results were presented to an audience of senior business leaders at a reception hosted by the Minister at Lancaster House on March 11 and later at a Conference attended by over 200 experts in this field held at the Millennium Conference Centre, Kensington, London.

The First Corporate Responsibility Index is sponsored by Aviva, HBOS and The Department of Trade and Industry.

* PDF versions of the Corporate Responsibility Index Executive Summary and of the BiE Index are available on request from Business in the Community on 0870 600 2482 or e-mail corporateresponsibility@bitc.org.uk.

Notes for Editors
1. Business in the Community is a unique movement in the UK of 700 member companies. Our purpose is to inspire, challenge, engage and support business in continually improving its positive impact on society. Together our member companies employ over 15.7 million people in over 200 countries. In the UK our members employ over 1 in 5 of the private sector workforce.

2. Members of Business in the Community commit to action and to the continual improvement of their company's impact on society. Specifically, our members commit to:
-Integrate responsible business practice throughout their business
-Impact through collaborative action to tackle disadvantage
-Inspire, innovate and lead by sharing learning and experience

3. Business in the Community has adopted the term 'responsible practice' in preference to 'Corporate Social Responsibility', because all organisations have an impact on their environment, workplace and marketplace as well as a social impact on the community, and this applies in the both the public and private sectors.

4. Further information about Business in the Community can be found at the website www.bitc.org.uk.

For more information, please contact:

Elizabeth Forbes Business in the Community
Phone: +011-44-20-7566-8769


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