find the latest legal job
Corporate and Commercial Partner
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: Adelaide SA 5000
· Full time · Join a leading Adelaide commercial law firm
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Sydney NSW
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
In-house Legal Counsel & Commercial Lawyers
Category: Corporate and Commercial Law | Location: All Melbourne VIC
· Providing lawyers with flexibility and control over when they work, how they work and who they work for.
View details
Legal Inhouse / Lawyer / Company Secretary
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Fantastic Company · Potential to be Part Time / Flexible Work Pattern
View details
Part Time Risk & Compliance Officer
Category: Other | Location: Brisbane QLD 4000
· Brisbane City · Flexible Part Time Hours
View details
Further backing for auditable CSR reporting

Further backing for auditable CSR reporting

MANDATORY LEGAL requirements emerged as the most popular method for ensuring companies were maintaining sustainable businesses from a survey by CPA Australia released last month.However, CPA…

MANDATORY LEGAL requirements emerged as the most popular method for ensuring companies were maintaining sustainable businesses from a survey by CPA Australia released last month.

However, CPA itself said this approach would be “a mistake” as it felt it was questionable whether all companies had the capacity to meet compulsory reporting of sustainability measures.

The accounting body favours leaving it to market pressures and says a mandatory regime would also introduce a one-size-fits-all approach that is not risk-based, and would be inconsistent with the “nature” of sustainability information.

Its arguments are in line with decisions made on the new ASX guidelines, which came into force this month and steer clear of specific requirements for dealing with sustainability.

Government regulation (89 per cent) and government incentives (87 per cent) were seen by the overwhelming majority of participants in the survey as the most effective ways to encourage environmentally-sustainable corporate behaviour. The least-favoured was market mechanisms, although it was still popular on 70 per cent.

However, CPA CEO Geoff Rankin said while they understood the impulse for compulsory rules, “the capacity of business to undertake mandatory sustainability reporting is unclear … [And] sustainability reporting must be allowed to evolve through market and voluntary mechanisms and cannot be short-circuited through pre-emptive regulation”.

Although they are specific requirements, federal laws requiring mandatory reporting of greenhouse emissions for companies emitting above 25 kilotonnes or more of greenhouse gas, or that produce or consume 100 terajoules or more of energy will come into force in July.

The latest Confidence in Corporate Reporting survey also gave strong backing for true triple bottom-line reporting, and specifically found strong support for mandatory reporting of water use in annual reports.

Backing those supporting market forces, the survey also confirmed consumer and investor sentiment was strongly motivated by environmental concerns.

Eighty-six per cent said they would be discouraged from working for a company with an unfavourable environmental reputation, for instance and 85 per cent would hesitate investing in such a company.

CPA’s report also found annual reports, ratings agencies and investor briefings were now given much more credence as sources of information on corporate sustainability than in 2005.

Sustainability reports were then nominated as a good source for 46 per cent of respondents from the general public, but last year none saw them as among the most important sources.

Lend Lease’s head of global sustainability, Maria Atkinson, agreed reports on sustainability had to move from a separate document, to being a part of annual reports.

“I think the community is so cynical of a separate branded marketing exercise that we’ve seen the trend is that sustainability should be embedded in your traditional reporting requirements,” Atkinson said.

“Once you’ve moved sustainability from a separate piece of marketing, into your annual report, you immediately have to comply with the auditing governance of an annual report disclosure,” Atkinson said. “And therefore I just can’t say that we’ve estimated our electricity consumption and greenhouse emissions without creating a set of reporting guidelines that are audited and have the capacity to be audited as well.”

Others, such as Ramsay Moodie, Fuju-Xerox’s head of corporate affairs, have changed their position in recent times to advocate mandatory requirements as they believe market forces are not going to be swift enough.

Almost 80 per cent in CPA’s survey also supported an emissions trading scheme within five years.

Rankin said the accounting and audit issues associated with such a scheme needed to be urgently tackled and said he had written to the chairman of the International Accounting Standards Board encouraging him to take action on the issue.

Professor Michael Adams, head of the University of Western Sydney’s school of law is one of the authors of a report on Australia’s corporate governance reforms, The Changing Roles and Responsibilities of Company Boards and Directors, released late last year.

He says they found the one area where Australian business appears to be falling behind the performance of other countries is in the reporting of corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability, even though his research “discovered many examples of extensive commitment to [CSR] and sustainability” in large and small companies.

“Although the balance of opinion remains in favour of voluntary rather than mandatory reporting, the lack of a framework for reporting and greater impetus to use this, suggests businesses here will not be reporting as comprehensively as in the UK, Europe and Japan,” Professor Adams said.

However, he said the change of federal government and global pressures “may see grater emphasis on risk management and CSR”.

Like this story? Read more:

QLS condemns actions of disgraced lawyer as ‘stain on the profession’

NSW proposes big justice reforms to target risk of reoffending

The legal budget breakdown 2017

Further backing for auditable CSR reporting
lawyersweekly logo
Promoted content
Recommended by Spike Native Network
more from lawyers weekly
Crowd
Nov 23 2017
Anti-radicalisation programs playing ‘second fiddle’ to terrorism laws
Several academics have questioned the balance between Australia’s counterterrorism legislation and...
 William Ah Ket
Nov 23 2017
‘Bamboo ceiling’ thought piece wins inaugural law prize
A paper that explores the idea of affirmative action to achieve greater diversity among members of A...
Nov 22 2017
Reduced investment protections will make robust commercial arbitration mechanisms all the more critical for investors
Promoted by Maxwell Chambers. This article discusses the current trend away from investor protect...
APPOINTMENTS
Allens managing partner Richard Spurio, image courtesy Allens' website
Jun 21 2017
Promo season at Allens
A group of lawyers at Allens have received promotions across its PNG and Australian offices. ...
May 11 2017
Partner exits for in-house role
A Victorian lawyer has left the partnership of a national firm to start a new gig with state governm...
Esteban Gomez
May 11 2017
National firm recruits ‘major asset’
A national law firm has announced it has appointed a new corporate partner who brings over 15 years'...
opinion
Nicole Rich
May 16 2017
Access to justice for young transgender Australians
Reform is looming for the process that young transgender Australians and their families must current...
Geoff Roberson
May 11 2017
The lighter side of the law: when law and comedy collide
On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be much that is amusing about the law, writes Geoff Rober...
Help
May 10 2017
Advocate’s immunity – without fear or without favour but not both
On 29 March 2017, the High Court handed down its decision in David Kendirjian v Eugene Lepore & ...