New call for sound ethical policies

Gerry Acher, chairman of the working party of the Advisory Committee for Business and the Environment, and senior partner of KPMG’s London office, said companies that fail to develop good social, ethical and human resources policies, could be ranked among the ‘dirtiest’ polluters, Accountancy Age reported today.

‘It is yesterday’s business leaders that ignore these issues. Until directors adopt these issues explicitly business is not going to get the true benefits,’ he said. ‘For there to be change, this whole issue has to be internalised into the way a company operates.’

ACBE has launched an exposure draft of its document, Internalising Sustainable Development, which is intended as a briefing paper for directors to gauge the level at which their companies are acting on concerns about the environment, social policy and sustainability.

It poses a series of questions such as whether companies perceive themselves as ‘leaders or followers in addressing societal demands’. It probes whether companies have developed performance indicators and how sustainability issues have been tied into their overall strategies.

Acher said legislation would bring compliance quickly but insisted a Bill was a not a short-term option and would not achieve the desired outcome.

‘Naming and shaming produces reluctant compliance. It doesn’t produce change in a sustainable way. That can only be achieved by internalising the issues into a company’s processes,’ he said.

‘What we are talking about here is good business sense and that is why we have adopted this approach.’

Vauxhall Motors this month claimed that it is the first UK motor company to incorporate environmental and social reporting into its financial results with the publication of its 1999 annual report.

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