FOR the first time in Australia’s corporate history, the country’s top 100 companies have been rated on how socially responsible they are.
The main results are 54 companies were satisfactory or better, 36 companies were unsatisfactory and nine were not rated due to insufficient information.
Of that final nine, one company was exempt.
Only Westpac received a AAA rating.
The next 10 companies – which received AA ratings – were IBM Australia, Energex, Australian Postal Corporation, Shell Australia, Alcoa of Australia, Visy Industries, Queensland Rail, BHP Billition, Coca-Cola Amatil and Insurance Australia Group.
The best performing sectors were mining, utilities, energy and transport.
The top 100 companies were assessed by 19 community groups in four areas – corporate governance, environmental impact, social impact and workplace practises – to produce a final RepuTex measurement.
RepuTex Rating Committee chairman professor John Hewson said Australian companies were starting to embrace social responsibility.
“Improved corporate social responsibility is not only vital but inevitable,” Professor Hewson said.
“There are some very good results but there are also some areas of concern.”
The ratings found that 86 companies were not satisfactory in the environmental impact category, 12 companies were satisfactory or better.
“A large number of companies still think they have no role to play in protecting the environment,” Professor Hewson said.
“This is not the case. Our banks, for example, finance large engineering projects here and overseas and many companies don’t appear to check the environmental standards of their suppliers.”
The insurance sector as a group was also found to be not satisfactory in the corporate governance category.
“Given the collapse of HIH this result is concerning and may require further inquiry,” Professor Hewson said.
Ironically, the corporate governance category was the one segment that most companies scored well in with 78 being rated as satisfactory or better. However, 17 were assessed to be unsatisfactory and four were not assessed due to insufficient information.
Government-owned corporations were, overall, the most socially responsible.
As a group they were top in all four categories. Australian Postal Corporation (Australia Post) topped two categories.
The next best group was local subsidiaries of overseas-listed multinationals.
The third and final group was local Australian Stock Exchange-listed companies.
Private companies were not compared as a group due to insufficient information.
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