Monday, 12 January 2015

Is corporate sustainability reporting a great waste of time?

Asks an article in The Guardian. It argues that companies need to "zero in on what’s important to the key stakeholders", that "It’s not about your story; it’s about your impact".

Another article asks Sustainable mining: an inherent contradiction in terms? It's about mining across the world, but the message is the same, "Mines generate huge revenues, but communities who live around them are poor and don’t see the benefits. That creates a cycle of conflicts..."
Mining conjures up an ugly environmental image. Companies dig deep into the earth and use large amounts of energy and water to extract, process and transport minerals, leaving behind a devastating impact. That image has come to define the mining industry, and it’s increasingly hurting its ability to make money.
We highlight these articles because Aggregate Industries has recently released its sustainability data for 2013. Part of this data includes information on "Community donations and support". We have written about this before - here, here and here.

Aggregate Industries is in the open-cast mining business. It impacts local communities like very few others. And it should compensate affected local communities like very few others. Yet we find that AI, and its Swiss-parent Holcim, has again given next to nothing back to UK communities. By next to nothing we mean a total of £108,909 in 2013, little more than 0.01% of its sales, or 1p in every £100. Whichever way you look at it, it rounds to nothing.

Latest available accounts show it made a turnover of £1.077 billion in 2013, compared to £1.025 billion in 2012. Earnings rose from £40.2 million to £96.4 million over the period.
With the zeroes, that's sales of £1,077,000,000 in 2013; a figure that shames the amount AI gives back to the communities it affects, and undermines the company's claim that "the people who live and work around us influence what we do and how we do it; they are fundamental to the maintenance of our licence to operate". Holcim's hashtag campaign on Twitter is #we_stand_for. In the UK, to the communities AI affects, #we_stand_for means absolutely nothing.