About CSR in Sweden
Traditionally Sweden has been in the forefront in CSR movement and responsible performance. One key reason for Sweden’s success in CSR is active role of government in coordinating CSR policies and their integrating into trade and foreign policy strategies. The Swedish Government encourages the private sector to follow the OECD’s guidelines for multinational companies, and to apply the UN Global Compact ten principles regarding respect for human rights, employee rights, environmental responsibility and anti-corruption. The state-owned companies should present sustainability reports in accordance with the Global Reporting Initiative’s (GRI) guidelines which, together with other financial reports such as the annual report, interim reports and the corporate guidance report, will make up an integrated basis for assessment and follow-up.
The success of CSR in Sweden could also be influenced by its cultural context. Sweden, like other Nordic countries, has a strong culture of environmental protection and sustainability. The Swedish culture of consensus could also be another reason for CSR success – people like to engage others in making decisions via consensus, and are good listeners – the signs of good stakeholder engagement in CSR.
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 Denmark, publicly traded on the Copenhagen stock exchange, were reviewed. These companies are of different sectors including pharmacy, building, beer manufacturing, engineering, others.
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||Points||Percentage|
|3||Hennes & Mauritz (H&M)||162||81|
|10||Lundin Mining Corporation||143||71.5|
Swedish companies is Atlas Copco, a large industrial group that produces heavy industry equipment. This group had shown good results in all Transparency Index dimensions – the web-site covers wide range of group’s CSR activities and it is easy to find needed CSR information there.
Almost all assessed Swedish companies publish non-financial reports. Only 3 among 25 companies don’t report on CSR activities. GRI reporting framework is quite popular among companies – 19 companies (76% of 25 companies) make sustainability reports according to GRI G3 Guidelines:
3 companies (Atlas Copco, SKF Group and Ericsson) have published Sustainability Report with Application Level A;
9 companies (Astra Zeneca, Boliden, Electrolux, H&M, Lundin Mining Corporation, Nordea, Sandvik, Telia Sonera, and Volvo) have published Sustainability Report with Application Level B;
7 companies (Assa Abloy, Handelsbanken, Scania Group, SEB, SSAB, Swedbank, and Tele 2) have published Sustainability Report with Application Level C.
Remaining 3 companies make their sustainability reports in the form of Communication on Progress (such as Lundin Petroleum) or other partial reports (Alfa Laval and Skanska). Three companies (Hexagon, Investor, and Getinge) include information about their CSR activities in their Annual reports, but the disclosure scope is not enough for obtaining points in the Reporting dimension according to TI.
Transparency Index Dimensions Disclosure
Regarding other three Transparency Index dimensions, Navigation has the highest disclosure rate among Swedish companies – 85%. Companies’ web sites have convenient interface for their users and it is easy to find needed CSR information. Six companies have maximum points in this dimension. Interestingly to note that less than half companies (11 from 25) in Sweden provide information about international CSR standards on their web-sites.
Content dimension has 68.7% of information disclosure. All Top 25 Swedish companies provide information about their financial performance and governance. It’s worth mentioning that most companies (17 from 25) have corporate responsibility management within their governance structure. Besides, Swedish companies pay much attention to disclosure of information about their ethical performance (82%), environmental projects and policies (79%). Such CSR issues as workplace (70%), customers (66%) and community development (69%) are covered almost equally. It should be noted that Swedish companies pay much attention to gender equality. Sweden is considered to be the “motherland” of gender equality policy development, and the companies from this country demonstrate this on their websites.
The least highlighted issue for the Swedish companies is stakeholder dialogue – only 25% disclose this information.
Traditionally, the least highlighted dimension is Accessibility – 35.5%. All companies provide contact information, but such components as access for disabled, CSR blogs and games are not covered on the web-sites.
Comparison of Transparency Index of Denmark and Sweden.
In general, the comparison of Transparency Index results in Denmark and Sweden shows that Swedish companies have higher rate of CSR information disclosure.
Top 25 Swedish companies have published more GRI reports – 19 against 12 in Denmark. The general number of non-financial reports in Denmark is a bit higher – 23 reports in Denmark against 22 reports in Sweden.
Comparing the level of Transparency Index disclosure show the same trends in two countries – Navigation has the highest result, and Accessibility – the lowest one. Within the Content dimension, largest companies in Sweden and Denmark have the same core issues highlighted on the web-sites: financial information, corporate governance, environment protection.