Posted by: Arjan Tupan | 27 October 2010

Are Baltic companies too shy to report on CSR?

Last week saw two publications that showed the benefits of running a business in a sustainable way. In Gimme Some Truth: Green washing versus Sustainability the authors mention as a sideline something very interesting – there is growing quantitative evidence that companies that embrace sustainable business practices actively outperform their passive peers. The other publication, by French institute ORSE, revealed results of a survey conducted on 125 companies in Asia, America and Europe, all part of the Global 500 (report available in French). Fully 95% of these companies consider sustainability and responsible operations in their procurement procedures. In other words, if you want to do business with companies in the Global 500, you need to have your corporate social responsibility activities in order.

With these publications in mind, it seemed time to have a quick survey on the state of CSR reporting in the Baltics as well. The basis for the survey was the Baltic Main List of Nasdaq OMX, containing 35 companies in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania. On the premise that the easiest way to report on your CSR activities and policies is through your corporate websites, all 35 company website were visited to check for reports and policies.

From the 35 companies on the Baltic Main List, 22 had some sort of sustainability policy published on their website. Either in the form of a company policy, or by means of stating their intentions. Mostly, this concerned either sponsorships of sports, education and culture. Second in line are the environmental policies and certifications.

Only 6 companies had a separate CSR report: Grindex of Latvia, Tallink and Tallina Vesi from Estonia, and Siauliu Bankas, TEO LT and Ukio Bankas from Lithuania. Interestingly, Siauliu Bankas was the only company to have made it accessible under the Investors menu. Other companies mainly published their CSR reports in the ‘about us’ sections of their respective websites.

The most mature and complete report was by TEO LT, the telecommunications provider from Lithuania. Their media rich report includes all CSR related fields, has strategic goals and metrics, and reports back on tangible results, like a 16% reduction of paper use per employee.

Another interesting finding was that the only Latvian company to publish a CSR report on their website, Grindex, had no listing on the Latvian sustainability index that was launched this year. Participation on that was voluntary, so it could be that Grindex decided not to enter for the index. Also interesting: the report published on the website of Ukio Bankas is the 2006 Global Compact Progress report. Their report on 2009 is available from the UN Global Compact website in Lithuanian.

Baltic companies are apparently still shy to report on their CSR activities. Most could take an example from TEO to see what type of strategic business results can be gained from good CSR policies.

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