Businesses are under increased pressure to be transparent regarding a number of their operating procedures. From diversity initiatives to social responsibility and sustainability objectives, corporate affairs professionals need to understand the level of transparency the public expects of an organisation.
Sustainability issues in particular are becoming even more of a concern for companies as initiatives like the Renewable Energy Target challenge enterprises to reduce their environmental impact. This pressure often comes from the public as well, especially as the interest in reducing emissions and protecting the environment increases.
In most cases, the best solution for organisations is to be transparent with the public and investors. However, research has shown that many of those listed on the stock exchange are withholding this information, which can harm their public perception.
How transparent do organisations need to be?
A study conducted by Corporate Knights and Aviva discovered there are a number of features of an organisation's sustainability plan that the public want to know about.
In particular, people want to know the amount of resources these businesses consume in their operations so they can see if they're making an effort to reduce their environmental impact.
According to the research, only a small number of global companies are meeting these requirements, which Corporate Knights says affects communication with shareholders and the wider public.
The firm found that just over a third (37 per cent) reveal the amount of greenhouse gases they emit, but only 22 per cent publish how much water they use.
However, Corporate Knights revealed that Australian organisations are reacting to these demands, placing the country fourth on its list of most sustainable stock exchanges over the past year.
What's a good example of a public sustainability campaign?
One of the most significant causes of greenhouse gas emissions is fleet vehicles, especially for organisations that rely on having their employees out on the road.
Thankfully, the desire for more sustainable operating procedures has already been adopted by automotive manufacturers, with environmentally friendly vehicles now a staple in most lineups.
The Queensland government has used this as a chance to highlight its own sustainability program, revealing it bought eight plugin hybrid vehicles that are significantly more efficient than petrol alternatives. According to Minister for Energy and Water Supply Mark Bailey this is to bring their fleet in line with a sustainable focus.
"Investing in electric vehicles is in the long-term interests of Queensland, so it is gratifying to see partnerships like this driving investment," he said.
The general public needs to be aware companies are making an effort when it comes reducing their impact on an environment, a practice that can have significant influence on corporate affairs.