08/12/2008 - 13:57

Corp Express, Blackmores win awards

08/12/2008 - 13:57


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Corporate Express Australia, the office supply and services company, has won this year's Sustainable Company of the Year Award.

Corporate Express Australia, the office supply and services company, has won this year's Sustainable Company of the Year Award.

The Australian Sustainability Awards, now in their eighth year, recognise best practice in corporate sustainability across Australian Stock Exchange Listed companies.

Corporate Express was nominated for its exemplary supply chain program, which the company has now implemented throughout its top 100 suppliers and for its 400 plus green products line. Judges also commended Corporate Express for its outstanding environmental and labour relations record.

In announcing the award, John Newton, group environment and sustainability manager at the Awards joint lead sponsor Amcor, says: "Sustainability is a journey and for some companies it is more complex and riddled with detail than others.

"This company sells a vast array of products, many of which are manufactured overseas, particularly in Asia. And with that, it has become a leader in establishing a meaningful level of sustainability commitments from its suppliers."

Health and food supplements company Blackmores has been named the Sustainable Small Company of the Year.

This an exceptional example of a company where the welfare and development of staff are at the fore of business. The company has also taken significant steps to reduce its impact on the environment.

"This small company is an established, profitable, dividend-paying leader in its industry," says Professor Steve Keen, keynote speaker and associate professor of the University of Western Sydney.

"With only 300 employees, the company itself demonstrates an impressive alignment with its products.

"It recognises that in order for those products to be accepted, the company that stands behind them should mirror their message - in this case, natural health," Keen says.

Other Corporate Awards were:

Environment - AGL Energy - for its lead on climate-change reporting, with top ranking disclosure in its externally assured sustainability report.

Social-Community - Lend Lease - for its focus on the community in its core business activities.

Labour Relations - SP Ausnet's diversity, recognising the greater contribution that women can make to the male-dominated industry.

Corporate Governance - Westpac has avoided the worst of the credit crunch through sound corporate governance and risk management practice.

Financial Services Industry Awards

A very close contest saw three finalists, Christian Super, VicSuper and Hesta, receive above average scores from the judges across five assessment criteria: their level of engagement in responsible investment sector initiatives; investment in sustainable investment funds/mandates; the extent they require their other fund managers to integrates ESG factors into their investment process; proxy voting and corporate engagement and their own level of corporate ethics and CSR.

Having received an honorable mention in last year's awards, Christian Super became this year's Sustainable Super Fund of the Year.

Making the award, Dr Caroline Noller, head of corporate responsibility at co-lead sponsor GPT Group, said: "This super fund has embraced the principles of ethical investment more than any other in Australia - and in a way that establishes alignment with the values represented by its industry.

"It was the first industry super fund to decide that putting all its money into ethical investments was not at odds with its fiduciary duty to maximise returns."

The Special Award for Sustainability Research went to Andrew Gray, head of ESG Research at Goldman Sachs JB Were for Good Governance = Good Returns. Mr Gray's paper found a positive a correlation between governance ratings from CGI Glass Lewis and share price returns over 7 years, including the financial crisis. Mr Gray provides a stronger argument for the link between good corporate governance and preserving shareholder returns.

The Ethical Investor Fund of the Year, as judged by Lonsec, is Australian Ethical Equities Trust. Writing in the upcoming edition of Ethical Investor Steve Sweeney, senior investment analyst at Lonsec, said the fund scored highly on the depth of socially responsible investment and was a clear outperformer over the assessed period.


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