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green@work : Magazine : Between Blue & Yellow : Jan/Feb 2003

Between Blue and Yellow
Rebuilding Trust Through Transparency

by Katie Sosnowchik
Editorial Director

We pay special attention in this issue to the subject of corporate social and environmental reporting. Why? Because some 2,500 companies worldwide currently produce environmental/social reports, estimates Gil Friend, CEO of Natural Logic and author of one of the articles on reporting that appears in these pages; few, however, use their reports to make better business decisions.

Our intent with this special section is two-fold. First is to help companies understand that reporting can provide internal stakeholders with timely, relevant information that can demonstrate the business case for sustainable development. Second, reporting can add significant value to a corporation’s dialogue with external stakeholders. In the days of Enron and WorldCom, a corporate social/environmental report is essential for increasing trust and transparency.

A noteworthy milestone in this area was the creation of the Global Reporting Initiative, corporate reporting guidelines that go to the heart of the sustainability debate. By developing a generally accepted reporting framework—including principles and protocols—reporters and report users are able to achieve maximum value from reporting efforts.

We’re pleased that SustainAbility will conduct a day-long pre-conference workshop on this topic in conjunction with our EnvironDesign®7 conference this spring. “Trust Us: The Global Reporter’s Workshop” is based on the latest SustainAbility/UNEP international review of best practices in CSR reporting and will cover the essential elements of reporting, best practices, most common mistakes and even a glimpse of the future. It will be held on Wednesday, April 30 in Washington, DC. (For more information on EnvironDesign7, see pages 39 to 45 in this issue or log on to www.environdesign.com.)

We have also added a new element to our green@work Web site (www.greenat workmag.com), where users can link directly from our site to many corporate social/environmental reports. Some of the companies featured to date include Dow, NEC Solutions America, TransAlta, IBM, Volvo and Novartis.

Finally, we’re honored to be the communications partner for the new U.S. Sustainability Reporting Awards program launched by CERES and the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants. The awards were created to contribute to reporting on sustainability, environmental and social issues by corporations and other organizations across the U.S.; reward best practices and provide guidance to other entities that are publishing or intend to publish sustainability reports; and increase accountability to stakeholders. (For details, visit www.ceres.org/newsroom/press/srawards.htm.)

Transparency will be a key issue as corporations seek to rebuild stakeholder trust in the next few years. Corporate social reporting provides a solid foundation on which to re-establish confidence. If your company has not already embarked on this journey, there’s certainly no time like the present to begin.


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