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Like Olympic events, the bar for listed corporates is forever rising. A successful company must not only consistently deliver growth in increasingly competitive markets, but it must meet high standards of governance, be socially and environmentally responsible and communicate clearly with investors. But like Olympic athletes, there are always those who cheat. Just as drugs are the scourge of the sporting world, corruption, in its many forms, is the poison of the corporate world.
This year's Corporate Award winners are akin to Olympic medallists who shun performance enhancing drugs and play a leadership role in society. Under pressure from governments, investors and local communities, companies are taking greater responsibility for the effects their activities are having on the environment. Reputational risk is acting as a major incentive.
Mining and oil companies are among those that have the greatest challenges since their industries are inherently polluting. Yet Asia is now seeing companies engaging with the challenges. “[Our company] … monitors reputational risk and updates mitigation measures on a monthly basis,” PTT states in its submission. “As a result, financial impacts from reputational risk as a result of climate change are relatively low. [Our company] reports its assessment of risks and opportunities from climate change to the board and stakeholders [annually].” PTT views climate change as “an opportunity for an organization to develop itself in order to effectively respond to risks and changes arising from various conditions and shifting consumer behaviours due to greater awareness of climate change”.
Just as companies are avoiding the economic and social costs of polluting the environment, so the smart companies are accepting the win-win of programmes to benefit the societies they are part of. The range of CSR initiatives in this year’s submissions is more extensive than ever. Many programmes focus on the health, education and welfare of disadvantaged groups.
In India, Reliance has been targeting farming communities by helping “rural household cultivate nutrition gardens using organic and sustainable practices,” it says. “Through the promotion of sustainable agricultural practices the agricultural productivity of the farms has been increased thereby improving food and nutrition security for the farming households.” Reliance also says it is committed to promoting the use of clean energy sources, creating water harvesting facilities as well as the conservation and promotion of biodiversity.
Disaster relief is another key component of corporate social outreach as earthquakes, floods, and typhoons strike the region with increasing ferocity. China Telecom says it quickly responded to several catastrophes in 2015 providing more than 70,000 headcounts of relief workers, 10,000 rescue vehicles, 8,000 diesel generators and 3,000 emergency communications equipment.
Increasingly, companies are accepting that their social responsibilities extend beyond local communities into their supply chains. For example, Li & Fung is working to educate factory workers in Bangladesh, Cambodia, India and Vietnam in finance, health and personal hygiene using a peer educator methodology. “To date, over 174,000 workers and 89 suppliers have been involved with positive results measured including reducing absenteeism and sick leave and improving communication in the workplace,” their submission claims.
The bar is set high for the exceptional enterprises that that are honoured in The Asset Corporate Awards for 2016. Now in its 16th year, the rankings are based on submissions, vetted by investors and analysts that cover them, and reflect the transformation in a region that is increasingly the driver of global growth with responsibilities to ensure it is sustainable.
For the full list of awardees, please click here.
28 Oct 2016