The Capita Group Plc and Great Portland Estates plc won the overall categories for the FTSE 100 and FTSE 250, respectively, in the 2007 PricewaterhouseCoopers Building Public Trust Awards "For Telling It How It Is" in their communication with key stakeholders.
The awards, now in their fifth year, celebrate the commitment by the UK's leading business and public sector organisations to build transparency and trust into their reporting.
At the ceremony on Thursday 11 October attended by some 300 business leaders, senior civil servants, regulators, standard setters and professional bodies there were five other awards:
- reporting on the real drivers of value as monitored by management ("measures of success"), won by Severn Trent Plc;
- tax reporting, won by Vodafone Group Plc;
- pensions reporting, won by Cookson Group plc;
- reporting of executive remuneration, won by Lonmin Plc; and
- The Ministry of Defence took the award for "Telling it How It Is" in the public sector (awarded in association with the National Audit Office), for the second year in a row.
In his keynote speech at the ceremony, Kieran Poynter, Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP, stressed that corporate reporting should be a true, fair and useful picture of how an organisation is being run and its future prospects. It should be a basic building block of corporate reputation.
Corporate reporting, he said, could help improve corporate reputation by being an important mechanism to present a balanced and informed picture of a business's broad contribution to society, adding:
"A new blueprint needs to be developed that is created not by regulators and standard-setters but by the corporate sector itself, understanding and responding to the changing business environment and changing public expectations. If we in the business world don't own this change agenda, if we don't make the running, Government and regulators will be pressurised or tempted to do it for us."
No company or organisation was immune from the changing environment, he asserted. "If an organisation thinks these issues are the responsibility of the CSR or communications departments, it is likely to have a problem. This is about a mindset where reputational issues are hard-wired into all aspects of business activity, from strategy development to the design of business processes."
Turning to how corporate reporting might evolve in the future, Poynter called for a framework which was truly user-centric: "it needs to be principles-based, reflecting the information used internally to run the business. It needs to contain non-financial, contextual information, as well as financial information. And, above all, it needs to be accessible to the public and not just the technical elite."
Kieran Poynter, Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP added:
"The presentation of that contextual and non-financial information will have to show a balanced picture of how business, private and public, contributes to society. Yes, the focus will be on wealth creation but it should also highlight its total tax contribution. Not just the corporation tax that is paid but all the other taxes which emanate from a company's existence and how that builds society. It might include the number of people employed, directly and indirectly, but also comment on the knowledge and skills development that accrues to society from their training and employment.
"This balanced picture might identify its impact on the environment and not just its emissions or waste generated. It might embrace its total resource usage and record its amelioration of it. It will justify its license to operate not just by measuring its corporate community involvement or corporate responsibility activities but by demonstrating how they are embedded in the organisation from the boardroom to the shop floor."
Kieran Poynter, Chairman, PricewaterhouseCoopers LLP concluded:
"Over the last 25 years we have learnt that regulations and prescriptive requirements are unlikely to provide the blueprint for the future. And I sense that many politicians, particularly here in the UK, understand the value that can be attributed to a reporting model that is widely framed, where guidance is kept to a minimum and where the shape of the content is reflective of the strategy of the business. We need to justify that faith."