CSR Network recently released "Material World: The 2003 Benchmark Survey Report," which evaluates the environmental, sustainability and social responsibility reporting of the 100 largest companies in the world.

Key highlights:

  • Health and safety reporting has risen from 39% of all companies responding to the survey (17% of the total 100 companies) in 2000, to 48% of all responders this year.

  • In 2003, the most notable areas of increased reporting have been in the social categories. 25% of companies now produce integrated global social and environmental reports as opposed to 23% producing purely environmental global reports.

  • The 2003 Survey measured a considerable interest in stakeholder engagement activities with 32% of companies reporting on a stakeholder engagement process. But many reporters still view stakeholder engagement as an end in itself rather than a means of obtaining perspectives and ideas that will be used to shape their business.

  • 26% of companies now report their position with regard to human rights and labor practices.

  • Companies are increasingly addressing wider global issues that relate to their industry. 49% of companies reported on the sustainability of their product or service in 2003.

  • For the third year running, the Computers and Electronics sector has had the greatest percentage of reporters (90%). Reporting in the Automotive sector has grown in maturity over the last four years and is now level with the Computers and Electronics sector, with 90% of the sector also producing a global report.

  • 18% of companies included independent assurance in their report, up from 8% in 2000.

  • 76% of survey companies using independent assurance providers this year are European.

  • The AA1000 Assurance Standard is emerging as the accepted framework for independent assurance.

    Themes of interest:

    Silent Sam - non reporting in the U.S.

    62% of all non-reporting companies are domiciled in the U.S. 70% of Asian companies publish a global environmental or social report. Japanese companies are traditionally strong environmental reporters.

    European companies account for 36% of the total number of companies, 69% of which publish a global environmental or social report. European companies display the greatest level of social and environmental or sustainability reporting.

    Internet reporting

    The Internet is now the preferred tool for communicating social and environmental performance. This year the Benchmark Survey did not measure the number of companies using the Internet as in previous years, as this is now almost a given. The majority of reports are now presented as PDF files.