CSR Analytics

THE TRANSPARENCY INDEX: BELGIUM 2012

Belgium is a complex country: initiatives on CSR are organized at both federal and regional level. At federal level, there is a law on “Coordination of the federal policy for sustainable development” (1997). This law foresees a cycle of continuous improvement through a Federal Sustainable Development Plan every four years and a Report every two years. In addition, a Reference framework for CSR in Belgium has been developed in 2006 to promote CSR in Belgium and stimulate companies to integrate it into their management. Belgium is one of the few countries with such a legal framework.[1]

There is currently no legal obligation for companies to publish a corporate CSR report, but since 1995 companies in Belgium have been required to include in their annual report a “bilan social” (social balance) that consists of data on the nature and the evolution of employment in their companies (workforce, fluctuations, training). Under the recent law of April 6 2010, publically listed companies are required to publish in their annual report a corporate governance declaration including information on the governance structure, remuneration policy, under the comply or explain principle.[2]

About Transparency Index (TI)

Transparency Index was developed by the Israeli company Beyond Business and was launched in 2009. Index assesses the company’s website viewed as a main source of information for company’s stakeholders. Assessment criteria are in Annex. Since January 2012 Beyond Business (Israel) and Centre for CSR Development (Ukraine) have partnered in launching International Transparency Index. In 2012 Top 25 companies from 25 countries will be assessed. In January 2012 twenty five (25) largest companies in Belgium, publicly traded on the Euronext Brussels, were reviewed. These companies are of different sectors including financial services, oil & gas, heavy and chemical industry, holding companies, food retail, telecommunication, real estate, and others.

Methodology (Annex)

The companies’ websites were assessed under four categories: 1) Reporting: existence of a report about the company’s social and environmental activities; 2) Content: level of information disclosure according to the CSR key areas; 3) Navigation: easy access to any information about the company’s social and environmental responsibility; 4) Accessibility: potential website accessibility from the perspective of various aspects (language, contact information availability, adaptability for the disabled).

Results

Rank

Name of the company

Sector

Points

Percentage

1

GDF Suez

Oil & Gas

154

77

2

Belgacom

Telecom

151

75,5

3

KBC Group

Financial Services

150

75

4

Umicore

Chemicals

139

69.5

5

Anheuser-Busch InBev

Brewery

131

65.5

5

Telenet Group

Telecom

131

65.5

7

Befimmo

Real Estate

127

63.5

7

UCB

Pharmacy

127

63.5

9

Delhaize Group

Food Retail

119

59.5

9

NV Bekaert

Heavy Industry

119

59.5

9

Solvay

Chemicals

119

59.5

12

Nyrstar

Heavy Industry

111

55.5

12

Fortis Bank

Financial Services

111

55.5

14

Dexia

Financial Services

110

55

14

D’ieteren

Specialty Retailers

106

53

16

Mobistar

Telecom

106

53

17

Cofinnimo

Real Estate

66

33

18

Elia

Electricity

57

28.5

19

Fluxys

Oil & Gas

53

26.5

19

RTL Group

Media

53

26.5

21

Colruyt Group

Food Retail

46

23

22

Sofina

Holding Company

35

17.5

23

Ackermans & Van Haaren

Holding Company

34

17

24

Ageas

Financial Services

31

15.5

25

Groupe Bruxelles Lambert

Holding Company

24

12

The average transparency level of Top 25 Belgian companies is 48.2%. The leader among the evaluated companies is GDF Suez with 77% transparency level. This company has a GRI Level B non-financial report and also demonstrates high score in other transparency dimensions.

Reporting

Non-financial reporting among Belgian companies is not so “popular”, as in Sweden and Denmark – countries evaluated before. Only 16 companies from 25 publish their sustainability  reports. Among these reports, there are no GRI Level A reports. In general, only 13 companies prepare sustainability reports according to GRI G3 Guidelines among which :

  • 7 companies (Anheuser-Busch InBev, Befimmo, Belgacom, Dexia, GDF Suez, KBC Group, Umicore) have published Sustainability Reports with Application Level B;
  • 6 companies (D’ieteren, NV Bekaert, Nyrstar, Solvay, Telenet Group, UCB) have published Sustainability Reports with Application Level C.

Remaining 3 companies make their sustainability reports in the form of Communication on Progress (Delhaize Group) or other reports (Mobistar and Fortis Bank).

 

Transparency Index Dimensions Disclosure (Picture 1)

The most covered Transparency Index dimension by the Belgian companies is company interface – Navigation (85%). Companies’ web sites have convenient interface for their users and it is easy to find needed CSR information. Four  companies (Befimmo, Belgacom, RTL Group, Solvay) from 25 have maximum points for this dimension. Not many companies disclose international CSR standards at their web-sites– only six companies (Befimmo, Belgacom, GDF Suez, RTL Group, Solvay, Telenet Group) from 25 have links and information about Global Reporting Initiative, UN Global Compact and other international CSR standards.

Accessibility dimension has 67% disclosure among Belgian companies. Comparing to Denmark and Sweden, this result is rather high. Within this dimension, companies provide contact information and feedback forms. Five companies (Ackermans&Van Haaren, Anheuser-Busch InBev, GDF Suez, KBC Group, NV Bekaert) have CSR related videos on their web-sites.

The Contentdimension contains disclosure of information on major CSR issues. However,  Belgian companies don’t demonstrate high scores within this dimension – only 47% disclosure. All companies  provide information on their financial performance and corporate governance (as this is a law on this). The most highlighted CSR issue in content dimension is environmental protection. Almost all companies (except four: Ackermans&Van Haaren, Ageas, Groupe Bruxelles Lambert, Sofina) show their environmental policies and practices at the web-sites, and the level of environmental issues disclosure is 67%. Another important CSR issues for Belgian companies is community development – 59% transparency level.

Other CSR issues which don’t have even 50% of disclosure are:

  • Workplace (care for employees) – 44.5%;
  • Ethics and human rights – 40%;
  • Supply chain– 28%;
  • Stakeholder dialogue – 12%.

Belgian companies don’t disclose information about their anti-corruption policies. Only one company (KBC Group) has such content on its web-site.

 

Picture 1. Level of Disclosure within Transparency Index Dimensions

 

Sectorial Analyses

The Top 25 Belgian companies represent different sectors. The most represented ones are heavy and chemical industry, and financial services – these sectors have 4 companies each in Top 25. Companies from heavy and chemical industry have high transparency level – 61%. The transparency level of financial companies is lower – 50%. It should be mentioned that these two sectors have higher transparency level than the average one among Top 25 Belgian companies.

Telecommunication sector also shows higher score than the average information disclosure rate among Top 25 Belgian companies and the highest result among all sectors, represented in the Transparency Index. Three telecommunication companies show 64.5% transparency level.

Interestingly, real estate sector (represented by 2 companies) has the same result as Belgian Top 25 – 48.2%. Another sector, represented by more than one company is food retail . This sector has 41% transparency level.

The leader of the Belgian Transparency Index represents oil & gas sector (totally, represented by 2 companies), which had shown 51.7% transparency level.

At the same time, extremely low results were demonstrated by holding companies – they have only 15.5% transparency.

Comparison of Danish, Swedish and Belgian Transparency Indexes

Top 25 Belgian companies have the lowest Transparency Index rate among these 3 countries. There is a significant difference between Sweden and Belgium – the transparency rate of Top 25 Swedish companies is 16.3% higher than Belgian ones. Danish Transparency Index is higher than Belgian by 9.1%.

Picture 3. Transparency Level of Top 25 Companies

in Denmark, Sweden and Belgium

As for CSR reporting, Top 25 Belgian companies have less CSR reports than Swedish companies and Danish ones as well. Level of GRI reporting in Belgium is lower than in Sweden, but higher than in Denmark. Top 25 Belgian companies have 13 GRI reports, Swedish – 19, and Danish – 12 GRI reports.

Belgian companies have rather high level of Accessibility dimension disclosure (67%). Danish and Swedish companies’ results within this dimension are much lower – 28% in Denmark and 35.5% in Sweden. At the same time, Content dimension is much less covered by Belgian companies – 47% against 60% in Denmark and 68.7% in Sweden.

Annex. Transparency Index Scoring Table

Index Criteria and weighting

Policy and Procedures PerformanceIndicators

Total Score

Dimension

Subject

Available Score

50%

50%

100%

Reporting

(total available points = 80)

GRI A level report

80

N/A

40

GRI B level report

70

N/A

GRI C level report

50

N/A

Non-GRI report or COP

40

N/A

Other partial report

30

N/A

Content

(total available points =

70)

Business profile and strategy

5

2.5

2.5

35

CR Management

2

1

1

Governance

6

3

3

Ethics and Human Rights

4

2

2

Anti-corruption and compliance

4

2

2

Stakeholder dialog

6

3

3

Material issues

6

3

3

Workplace impacts

10

5

6

Customers , Products, Marketing

6

3

3

Suppliers and Supply Chain

6

3

3

Community Development &  support

5

2.5

2.5

Environment

10

5

5

Navigation

(total available points = 20)

Number of clicks to first CR content

5  (1 click from home page)

3 (2 clicks from home page)

1 (3 clicks from home page)

10

Search facility

5

Aggregation of topics on site

2

Menu

2

Site map

4

Links to additional CSR information

2

Accessibility

(total available points = 30)

CSR minisite

4

15

Language

1 – local language

1 extra point for each additional language

Access for disabled

4

Contact details

4 – named person+ contact info

3 – general mailbox

2- general info/form

Feedback form

2

CSR blog

4

CSR Videos

2 points for each video

CSR Game

1

TOTAL

200

100

 


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