AsiaPac corporate responsibility reporting still lags

November 18, 2011
KPMG Corporate Responsibility Survey 2011

A survey on corporate responsibility (CR) has found that China has leapt up the league tables in its use, while Singapore gets chastised. Asia-Pacific companies in general were found to be falling behind in issues of responsibility and sustainability compared to other regions, including Africa.

The KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2011 is a  comprehensive tri-annual analysis of data from 3,400 companies worldwide, including the top global 250 firms and the largest 100 companies across 34 countries and 15 industry sectors.

Wim Bartels, global head of KPMG’s Sustainability Assurance, said the global momentum in corporate responsibility demands both higher quality CR information and greater use of assurance (external monitoring of CR) to maintain standards and stakeholder confidence. “Unlike financial reporting, the disclosure of sustainability metrics to the market is largely unregulated. Restatements are four times higher compared to financial reporting and demonstrate that CR reporting has some way to go,” he said.

“The time has now come to enhance CR reporting information systems to bring them up to the level that is equal to financial reporting, including a comparable quality of governance controls and management,” urged Mr. Bartels.

Asian companies, in general, are not getting the message with just less than half of companies (49 percent) now disclosing CR data to the markets. This not the case in China, however.

“New to the survey this year, [China] seems to be in a full-out sprint to catch up to the traditional leaders in this field. Almost 60 percent of China’s largest companies already report on corporate responsibility metrics, bringing the country on par with where Spain, Italy and the Netherlands were just three years ago. While previous data is not available for benchmarking, it is clear that China will enjoy wide-spread CR reporting in the near future,” the survey stated.

Only 20 percent of Indian companies report on CR, 27 percent in New Zealand and 37 percent in Taiwan. Paradoxically while only 20 percent of Indian companies had a CR policy, of that 20 percent, 80 percent use some form of external monitoring and reporting (assurance). South Korea rates highly at 75 percent too.

But the report censured the Lion State. “Singapore, often a leader in adopting leading business practices, also saw comparatively low reporting rates of 43 percent.”

To put this in perspective, all the top 100 companies in the United Kingdom have corporate responsibility reporting. Japan follows with 99 percent, the United States is at 83 percent and now China is at 60 percent.

The survey found that CR reporting is now undertaken by 95 percent of the G250, and 64 percent of the largest 100 companies (N100) in each country, representing increases of 14 and 11 percent respectively since KPMG’s previous survey in 2008. Almost half (47 percent) of the G250 companies surveyed say then gain financial value from their CR initiatives.