Linking Governance & Sustainability
The “Governance and Sustainability: is there a link?” forum, held in conjunction with the inaugural Corporate Governance Week 2009, found that sustainability reporting in Malaysia is in “poor shape”. Environmental Quality Council Malaysia chairman, Datuk Kok Wee Kiat, was reported to have also found that Malaysian companies were “where we should not be” when it comes to sustainability reporting.
He was quoted as saying:
There was hardly any sustainability reporting until Bursa Malaysia made it a requirement, and we saw listed companies providing descriptions of their corporate social responsibility (CSR) activities. We’re in poor shape.
Kok went on to say that the value of sustainable reporting must contribute to the business and to the betterment of the community. furthermore, he felt the report should be audited by a third party. Kok went on to say that the government should make sustainability reporting compulsory for all Malaysian companies. He was quoted as saying:
There will not be any action unless there is a mandate to do so. a rule will be needed to help kick-start it.
Kok felt that consumers should be the biggest CSR drivers, with the CEO being the next in the driver’s seat. “If he is committed, only then will everyone else within the company be committed,” Kok said.
The “Governance and Sustainability: is there a link?” forum, organised by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants with the Securities Commission and Bursa Malaysia, featured reputed panellists, including Guinness Anchor Bhd managing director, Charles Ireland, and CSR Asia Malaysian director, Rikke Netterstrom. Institute of Corporate Responsibility Malaysia chairman and PricewaterhouseCoopers executive chairman, Datuk Johan Raslan, moderated the forum.
The forum was a platform for business leaders to gather perspectives from the panellists and participants on the link of sustainability reporting initiatives in the corporate governance equation. Speakers presented views on the level of reporting in Malaysia, and how measuring and reporting on social and environmental performance provide links towards strong culture of corporate governance in organizations.
Jennifer Lopez, Acting Country Head of ACCA Malaysia, stated in the press release:
Today’s corporations operate in an environment of intense scrutiny from the media, investors, regulatory and public. Increasing public and stakeholder concern about the social and environmental impacts of business practices is forcing companies to come to terms with a much broader set of interests and expectations. Hence, we see more companies in Malaysia producing reports on their environmental and social performance or sustainability performance.
During the forum, Ireland was reported to have felt that CSR practices should be continued, notwithstanding an economic downturn. He was reported to have said:
In times of crisis, there are more companies that fail than succeed. Companies that succeed are those that are good holistically and that include CSR… People have long memories. They will remember if you maintain CSR long after the crisis is over.
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