Managing CSR: measurement

May 01, 2004

Royal ranking

National Grid Transco, BP, Rolls-Royce, ScottishPower and BAA all achieved the top ‘AAAAA’ rating in the second Corporate responsibility index, published by Business in the Community on March 14 (see table opposite for more details). Other sector leaders identified by the voluntary, self-assessment survey include Unilever (food producers and processors), Co-operative Bank (banks), BT (telecommunications), Aviva (insurance) and Sainsbury’s (food and drug retailers).

Overall, the average score of the 139 participating companies increased from a score of 68% in 2003 to 80% this year. The best performing sectors were food and drug retailers, together with utility companies. The index continues to show, however, that company’s management systems (81%) remain ahead of actual corporate performance (76%).

Other findings from the index reveal that:

  • companies continue to perform best on environmental issues, which outperform the management of community-related issues by 10%
  • one in five participating companies do not report on key environmental and social issues facing them, with that number increasing to one in three for consumer issues
  • four out of five now have a board director with explicit responsibility for human rights and just under two-thirds have a policy on the subject
  • training and education are judged to be key management imperatives now that the majority of companies have policies and codes of practice in place

Contact Dianna Rincones, BITC, on &020 7566 6628 (

Papers chase

The BBC, Guardian Media Group, ITV, Pearson and Reuters number among 15 of the UK’s leading media companies who have teamed up to create the Media CSR Forum. The forum aims to improve the way in which the media sector responds to its corporate social responsibilities. The companies have pledged to work together to put measurements in place that allow the industry’s intangible benefits to be assessed by external organisations. The first step will be wide stakeholder consultation with the goal of producing a positioning statement and, eventually, guidelines.

Media companies argue that existing CSR indices do not take into account that the key role of the media industry lies in its intangible benefits, such as freedom of expression and promoting a culturally diverse output. The issues that are of importance to all media companies are creative independence, integrity of information and freedom of expression. Contact Michael Hastings, BBC, on &020 8008 1848 (

Comment: managing CSR: measurement

May 01 2004

by Briefing staff


Year Two over – among the leaders, pleasure and (we suspect) no little relief; among the laggards, much soul-searching whether the huge effort invested was worthwhile and (we suspect) no little annoyance at the scoring system. In fact a significant minority of last year’s participants dropped out, but some new companies joined in, leaving the total modestly up (though still only a quarter or so of the 500 invited to participate).

On the plus side, the basis of the Index is sound, starting as it does from corporate values, identifying risks and opportunities and then assessing how these are really addressed and lived out in practice. The process does act as a spur for action internally too. Senior management may not fully understand what CSR is, but they do know about coming low down a published league table.

On the minus side, one approach is trying to assess a multiplicity of different industries. Performance assessment is easiest on the environment – where one size can fit most – and hardest on the sector-specific issues affecting customers.

Huge multinationals attempting to report on their global operations are also at a disadvantage compared to focused, UK-only companies.

On balance, the priority now is not to tinker, but let the Index bed down and participants drive up continued improvement.