ACCA Sri Lanka felicitated the country’s most transparent and accountable business entities at the annual ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards, crowning John Keells Holdings, Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings and HDFC Bank as winners in the large, medium and small sectors respectively.
Janashakthi Insurance also earned kudos for conforming to reporting guidelines as a First Time Entrant. These companies, together with the runners up in the three categories Diesel & Motor Engineering Company, Union Assurance and HNB Assurance were recognised and rewarded for their exemplary reporting tenets conforming to the GRI guidelines, which are increasingly being imbued into companies’ reporting processes around the world. People’s Leasing Company gained a commendation in the medium category.
Chief Guest Diarietou Gaye, Country Director for Sri Lanka and the Maldives of The World Bank commended Sri Lankan companies for embracing sustainability principles into business strategy, stating that awards like the ACCA Sustainability Reporting Awards highlight the positive role of the business sector in resolving sustainability issues.
“They can lead way in the seismic shift that is required to make a long term impact,” she stated.
Guest of Honour was ACCA Director for Emerging Markets – Asia, Lucia Real-Martin, added that, “While being proud to recognise the positive impact that Sri Lankan businesses have on sustainability issues, we hope these awards, which have been celebrating such businesses for the last eight years, will pave the way for thousands of other Sri Lankan businesses to emulate these best practices.”
According to the observations contained within the Judges’ Report, the winning entries satisfied the ACCA judging criteria of completeness, credibility and communication.
Director Postgraduate Institute of Management Professor Uditha Liyanage who spoke on behalf of the Panel of Judges which included CEO of CCC Solutions Prema Cooray and UN Global Compact Focal point – Sri Lanka & Executive in Residence of INSEAD Social Innovation Center Ravi Fernando, said, “We have seen a significant increase in the quality of sustainability reports in the competition and a gradual increase in the number of reports entered. The level of competition in the large scale sector is very high as many of the reports in the sector are of good quality making it harder each year to determine the winner. We see the companies watching and keeping pace with global trends and the first integrated report is an example of this. The level of competition in the medium sector and the small scale sectors had also improved significantly.”
The John Keells Sustainability Report 2011 certified by GRI at B+, in addition to certfications from DNV, is one of a handful of reports disclosing its carbon footprint.
“A comprehensive and credible report, this is a very good example of how a holding company operating in multiple sectors has integrated sustainability into its value chain,” states the Judges’ Report. “It clearly links the sustainability strategy to business objectives, stakeholder concerns and operating environment and outlines a strong structure for integrating sustainability within the Group’s value chain and clear lines of communication and responsibilities for implementing policy monitoring and review.”
President, John Keells Group Suresh Rajendra reflected that, “Balancing economic, social and environmental responsibilities with business priorities is pivotal for success in today’s fast evolving corporate world. We continue to be committed to our responsibility of being a sustainable business leader that hopefully sets the pace for others to follow.”
The judges also stated that Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings has adopted GRI G3 guidelines conforming to B level and has a declared intention of obtaining certification from GRI itself.
“This company is a consistent performer in this category and is an example to other companies in the tourism/hotel sector. The report demonstrates integration of sustainability principles into business processes and a commitment is made to improve the measurement and data collection processes to support improvements.”
Declares Managing Director of Aitken Spence Hotel Holdings, “We consciously adopt best practices in environmental and social governance in harmony with the principles of the United Nations Global Compact and the Millennium Development Goals. Sustainability is a core belief at Aitken Spence Hotels. We have developed an integrated sustainable policy which has been implemented internally, incorporating our values and commitment to the environment and the communities in which we operate.”
HDFC which won two awards last year including that for First Time Entrant, continued to top the ranks in the small sector, gaining top position this year too, due to its continued commitment to sustainability principles and clearly specified and stated goals.
Following GRI guidelines, the report measures the Bank’s carbon footprint and has gained external assurance, while HDFC impressed the judges with its product development strategies aligned to stakeholder requirements and corporate structures responsible for sustainability clearly established with the CEO as spearhead. “It is a concept that gives the Bank a framework that will help the development of the nation at large through sustainable housing and poverty reduction, while also assisting in managing climate change.”
President of ACCA Sri Lanka Nisreen Rehmanjee enthused on the excellence portrayed by the winners in integrating sustainability frameworks into business strategies, communicating their plans, aspirations and performance in a transparent manner.
“Sustainability issues have never been more at the forefront of corporate and public sector agenda as it is today,” she said. “The successful businesses have shown us the way forward and the call to other businesses to do the same is loud and clear. Business leaders who operate in the uncertain and volatile post-recession world will be those who operate in an accountable and transparent way. We have experienced the pitfalls of not paying attention to sustainability principles and the new generation of leaders will be those who pay attention to the lessons learned from the many debacles of the past decade.”