Australian business prepares to take action on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)

Australian business is very aware of the newly adopted United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and many are planning strategic partnerships to pursue the Goals, according to the 8th Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand, released today.

The State of CSR is one of the largest ongoing longitudinal studies on CSR in the world, and is produced by the Australian Centre for Corporate Social Responsibility (ACCSR).

The Australian government, one of 193 signatory countries, has adopted the SDGs. This year the Annual Review of the State of CSR examined how companies are aligning their business strategies with the Sustainable Development Goals and revealed that the most important Goals for Australia and New Zealand business are Gender Equality; Good Health and Wellbeing; and Decent Work and Economic Growth.

ACCSR’s Managing Director, Dr Leeora Black, said the results are encouraging because most businesses will address several of the Goals and they see important linkages in their broader societal contributions. “The big focus on Gender Equality shows the effect of recent campaigns within business to address the gender gap,” she said.

Stakeholder engagement remains the highest CSR priority for business, while managing the implications of technology has risen to second top priority (up from the tenth highest priority in 2012).

For the first time, the survey on which the State of CSR is based asked for specific information on how priorities will be addressed. “It turns out that there is a significant gap between espoused priorities and concrete plans, expressed in our Annual Review as a ‘commitment co-efficient’,“ said Dr Black. “For some priorities, such as combatting business corruption or addressing labour relations issues, the commitment co-efficient was very low, at 0.25 and 0.21 respectively. This hints at the continuing struggle of CSR workers to influence organisational decisions and ensure appropriate budgets for their work.”

This year’s report also explored the relevance of international CSR frameworks in Australia and New Zealand. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) remains the most used and the most useful framework for most organisations, followed by the UN Global Compact.

The Annual Review also revealed this year’s CSR Top Ten – the organisations that scored greater than 75 per cent for CSR management capabilities, as ranked by their employees. The CSR Top 10 in Australia are Abergeldie, Deloitte, Ebm-papst A&NZ, KPMG, NAB, PwC, South32, WaterAid, Westpac and Yarra Valley Water. The CSR Top 3 in New Zealand were Bank of New Zealand, Toyota NZ and Z Energy.

Partners for the 2016 Annual Review of the State of CSR in Australia and New Zealand were La Trobe Business School, Massey University, the New Zealand Sustainable Business Council, Sustainable Business Australia, Engineers Without Boarders and Wright Communications. This year 1,080 respondents participated in the research ― the highest number in its history.

It is available for download at: http://accsr.com.au/csr-services/latest-research/

For information:

Dr Leeora Black, ACCSR Managing Director, phone 0412 163 327, email leeorablack@accsr.com.au.

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