Companies are not only in dialogue with investors and customers. Other stakeholders such as employees, non-government organizations (NGOs), suppliers, public authorities, government or the general public have a justified interest in a company's actions. Companies are reliant upon the dialogue with all stakeholders in order to be able to assess correctly their opportunities and risks. This is because stakeholder influence on business success has been growing for some years. Consequently, "silence is golden" is not the motto for communication, it's damaging to business.
The Balance Sheet Reform Act ("Bilanzrechtsreformgesetz") of 2004 has resulted in the obligation to report on aspects of Corporate Responsibility (CR) in the status reports of larger corporations and groups: According to paragraph 289 of the German Commercial Code ("Handelsgesetzbuch"), non-financial performance indicators "such as information about environmental and employee needs" are to be reported "insofar as they are of significance for the understanding of the development of a business or its situation".
Companies, however, are under obligation to take a systematic and critical look at their corporate responsibility even without such statutory requirements. After all, investors, analysts and lenders are asking in ever greater detail about how companies fulfil the criteria of sustainability. Major investments, company acquisitions or positive image building in the public eye will only succeed in future if companies practice corporate responsibility at all levels.
Good reporting calls for reliable data and information. Processes have been established and optimized over decades in the finance and accounting sectors that provide a sound guarantee for this today. CR reporting has to be orientated at that standard if it is to be taken seriously.
CR reporting, however, is much more demanding than many believe. A large number of facilities and divisions have to be included and operated according to uniform worldwide requirements. The individual data records have to be systematically consolidated and analysed at all levels.
With its auditing know-how, PwC assists and advises companies with the introduction of a CR reporting process that guarantees orderly and audit-proof reporting.
Partner, Leiter Sustainability Services
Tel: +49 89 5790-5535
Dieter W. Horst
Senior Manager, Sustainability Services
Tel: +49 69 9585-1397