MHN222568: Students have been allocated a company normally a corporate member of the initiative and been asked to critically analyse the company’s reporting on its corporate responsibility: Sustainability, Corporate Responsibility Report, GCU, UK

University Glasgow Caledonian University (GCU)
Subject MHN222568: Sustainability Corporate Responsibility

The Task: 

Students have been allocated a company – normally a corporate member of the initiative and been asked to critically analyse the company’s reporting on its corporate responsibility and sustainability activities and impact. Students are asked to undertake this critical analysis with reference to Global Reporting Initiative metrics (using WikiRate), the UN Global Compact 10 Principles; the SDGs, and academic literature on what constitutes good practice in reporting.

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Phase 1:

Deadline Friday, February 25th – Completion of WikiRate research on an allocated company, using the company’s latest available sustainability and/or UN Global Compact CoP Report. In this phase, students will familiarise themselves in general terms with the organisation under study, its main products and/or services, the scale and scope of its operations, its latest sustainability report, and its level of commitment to ‘sustainability’ as self-reported using GRI metrics.  The outputs of this phase are:

  • an upload of the company’s latest sustainability report, integrated report, annual report and/or UN Global Compact Communication report (CoP) into the GSBS WikiRate project page;
  • developing an understanding of metrics for corporate responsibility and sustainability reporting;
  • identification and analysis of the extent of sustainability self-reporting using GRI metrics;
  • compilation of a summary spreadsheet of WikiRate GRI metrics for use in the individual report;

Phase 2:

Friday, February 25th to deadline Friday, March 11th – Verify the accuracy of the WikiRate research carried out by a fellow student, by going into and checking whether the analysis and reporting inside WikiRate done by a fellow student is accurate, or whether something has been overlooked.  Student needs to check answers, cited page numbers, and check unknowns to see whether they are really unknown!

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Phase 3:

FromMarch11th to the Submission Deadline of April 28th Ensure that you participate in the SCoRE review lecture (online) in the final Week 9.

  • Research materials on the UN Global Compact website
  • Read academic papers (GCU Learn) about corporate reporting of CSR (useful for critical evaluation)
  • Review lecture materials for things to look for in sustainability reports

Design and write your report  – raise any emerging questions in your seminar class(es) Suggested Structure of Report (add as required and use your discretion). To be used in conjunction with the Individual Assignment Marking Grid (see module handbook).

Executive Summary (Not in word count) – brief and succinct – good ½ page – last thing you write!!! 

  1. Purpose of the report (brief description); What and how did you do it? Names report(s) you used.
  2. Tabular summary of the company (Name, HQ, Time in UNGC, No. Employees, Turnover, Products/Services; Date of joining the UN Global Compact.
  3. Brief overview: to include the name of the report; year; length of report (no. of pages); no. of sections; any special section summarising GRI metrics and/or reference to the UN Sustainable Development Goals?
  4. Summary conclusion: based on what you have found in your report, do you feel that the company is committed to being a good corporate citizen, following UNGC guidelines – or do you feel the company is greenwashing/blue washing? In either case, explain briefly why
  5. Brief summary and critical evaluation of your primary WikiRate research, using the spreadsheet to inform your analysis and evaluation (No. of metrics reported, which ones (not), etc..); Summarise any differences in the number and/or extent of metrics reported by the company in the previous year (e.g. commenting on whether reported metrics are biased towards environmental, social or are balanced); If you wish, benchmark the no. of metrics reported by your company, with the number reported by another organisation in the same sector….is it a similar number? Different? What does this tell you? May be add a short section where you talk about any differences with the (2nd) company whose data you verified?
  6. Descriand critical evaluation of quality and comprehensiveness of reporting against the 10 UNGC Principles (and the SDGs); Does the firm report explicitly against each of the 10 Principles? Does it discuss its contribution to the SDGs? Does it report against the SDG’s? (Read UNGC article from GCU Learn (Lecture 2) to help you to understand the relationship between the 10 Principles and the SDGs. Critically discuss whether the company puts any particular emphasis on any particular Principles – or whether the 10 Principles are reported upon equally? How does this map against what you found when researching GRI metrics inside WikiRate?
  7. Conclusion: drawing together your critical evaluation f the report overall, and what it tells the reader about the company’s commitment to both the letter and spirit of UN Global Compact Principles. If you were to imagine an “Ideal Report” – how far off such an ideal report is your company’s?  To what degree do you feel that the company is following UN Global Compact Advice on Communication on Progress (CoP) reporting (download and read UNGC Advice on CoP Reporting from the UNGC website)? Please access and read UNGC reporting guidelines (from the UNGC website and also the article provided in GCULearn on the integration of reporting on the 10 Principles and aligning with GRI Metrics) and also read a selection of academic articles about corporate reporting, available in GCULearn (see Week 2 Lecture materials and readings).  Maybe conclude with some well-supported argument as to whether the company you are looking at appears from its reporting to be very clearly committed to the 10 Principles of the UNGC – or whether you feel that there may be aspects of ‘greenwashing’ or ‘bluewashing’ in the report.  Make sure that you back up any statements with reference to specific sections of the report. Ask for a seminar tutor for guidance.

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