Analysis Of Sustainability Reports Of Westfield And Woolworths

Purpose of GRI Reporting by Companies

Sustainability reporting analysis of companies involve analyzing the  ways in which these firms address the information needs of its stakeholders and along with ensuring its quality, consistency with sustainability standards and contributing towards the community (Braam and Peeters 2018). The objective of this paper is to analyze the sustainability reports of Westfield and Woolworths along with discussing the importance of preparing sustainability or IR report. Moreover, the key stakeholders for these two companies are evaluated in assessing whether the sustainability reports of Woolworths and Westfield addresses their needs. Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has been followed by these organizations in preparing their sustainability reports.

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There is several major business purposes for which the selected companies, Woolworths and Westfield focuses on preparing sustainability reports complying by GRI standards.

  • Woolworths:Implementation of GRI sustainability standards in the company focuses on offering assurance regarding developing values of its sustainability report with respect to trust, values, safety, respect as well as excellence (Calabrese, Costa, Ghiron and Menichini 2017). Implementing such standards, Woolworths offer important information to all its internal along with external stakeholders concerning all its sustainability actions offered by GRI. Moreover, the sustainability report of this company intends to assure success of its consumers and clients on an international basis. GRI based reporting has also supported the company in operating sustainably, safely and responsibly (Calabrese, Costa, Levialdi and Menichini 2016).
  • Westfield:Westfield Company is focused on offering GRI sustainability reports with an intention to attain most efficient standards in the areas of environment management, relevance, safety, effectiveness and corporate governance (de Villiers, Rinaldi and Unerman 2014). In addition to that, the company focuses on offering better GRI based sustainability reports in offering better positive environmental and community outcome. For this reason, the company is intended to address several sustainability concerns within the business in consideration to four important fields. This includes aspect such as responsible business conducts, economic advancement as well as secured and safety inbuilt working environment (Ehnert et al. 2016).

The major shareholders of Woolworths and Westfield as well as their interest are explained below:

  • Shareholders-These stakeholder group are the ones those have invested funds within the companies. This is one of the important stakeholder group as they intend to gather information on corporate governance, strategy implementation and business performance of the retail organizations for making investments in them (Braam and Peeters 2018).
  • Creditors-This stakeholder group has important interest n attaining information from sustainability report published by Woolworth and Westfield’s. They require information regarding costs, business product performance and are consistency. Based on the sustainability position of the companies, the creditors take vital decision on extending the credit terms with the organization as they attain confidence within sustainable business operations of these firms (Godha and Jain 2015).
  • Employees-Contractors as well as employees are anoyher major stakeholder group that demand for information regarding the management as well as leadership structure of the company along with attaining information on future growth opportunities (Braam and Peeters 2018).
  • Suppliers- The suppliers are major stakeholders for these two companies and they intend to attain relevant information on sustainable reporting of the companies (Godha and Jain 2015). It is observed to be easy for this stakeholder group to attain an important insight on business commitment of these retail organizations ethical business conducts.
  • Local community- This stakeholder group is important for the companies as they focus on attaining information on regarding the measures related with maintaining health and safety measures as well as concerns related with sustainability and training (Calabrese, Costa, Ghiron and Menichini 2017).

There are certain differences and similarities in sustainability practices followed by Woolworths and Westfield that are elaborated in details below:

Similarities in Sustainability Reports: Being operating within the retail industry, Woolworths and Westfield have certain similarities on sustainability reports (Global Reporting Initiative 2015). These companies sustainability report makes sure that they follow safety standards followed by its employees. Moreover, these two organizations provide better information on the frequency of employee accidents or injuries that took place on a yearly basis and have also implemented that are also elaborated within the sustainability reports. The major concern that is explained within the sustainability report is to decrease the rate of accidents in the business operations. Best management practices of Woolworth and Westfield are focused on attaining important corporate disclosure information regarding the related policies (Godha and Jain 2015). Sustainability committees have been developed by these retail organizations in making sure that these committees offer regular feedback to the management for taking better business decisions.

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Differences in Sustainability Reports: There are certain differences in the sustainability reports developed by Woolworths and Westfield. Woolworth’s management has increased focus on addressing environmental issues that are related with disclosure. Moreover, certain vital information concerned with maintaining security and safety of workforce, ethical sourcing of all the raw materials and the product safety (Kiron and Kruschwitz 2015). In opposition to that, Woolworths Company has offered detailed explanation concerned with fleet in addressing carbon emissions. Such disclosure within the sustainability report is not observed in Westfield case (Ogata, Inoue, Ueda and Yagi 2018).

Quality of Information

Both Woolworths and Westfield follow GRI sustainability reporting standards in offering high quality disclosures for all its shareholders. Both of these retail companies also makes sure that the sustainability information that is used in preparation of sustainability report must be gathered, compiled, recorded, evaluated and disclosed in a manner that it maintains materiality and quality of sustainability information (Espinach 2018). The sustainability report format of Woolworth and Westfield is easy to understand that ensures the comparability feature of sustainability reports. Quality of the sustainability report produced by Woolworths and Westfield is deemed to be effective as it includes economic, social and environment performance disclosures in which the company has an obligation to comply with. In maintaining safety standards and disclosing information on safe workplace environment for employees, the sustainability report of these two companies establishes veracity of its contents (Westfield.com.au. 2018). In complying with the GRI sustainability standards, both of these retail companies has disclosed important information concerning risk management strategies, measures in dealing with issue of climate change along with offering safe and healthy working environment.

Major Stakeholders Interest within the Sustainability Reports

Important Framework and Standards Consistency

Materiality concerns associated with the sustainability report of the companies are explained within the GRI standards that are explained within the G4-17 and G4-23 (Woolworthsgroup.com.au. 2018). In addition, for offering stakeholders with vital governance based information, Woolworths and Westfield abides by these two guidelines set within the GRI sustainability standards. In order to disclose important information regarding environmental factors these two Australian retail organizations follow the sustainability standard of G4-DMA (Braam and Peeters 2018). In following such sustainability reporting standards, these companies also ensures understandability of their report through making sure that the sustainability reports avoid using technical terms and acronyms. This is for the reason that these are observed to be unfamiliar for the stakeholders despite of adding unnecessary and excessive information details.

Information Fulfilling Stakeholder Requirements

The stakeholder group of Woolworths and Westfield Company focuses on obtaining information regarding the business performances. For such causes, information is demanded by the companies’ stakeholders regarding the social as well as environmental performance, corporate governance as well as measures that can ensure safety of all its employees. In consideration to the evaluation of sustainability information offered to stakeholders, it was observed that Woolworths and Westfield offer vital information on the selected sustainability factors through complying with the needs of GRI sustainability standards (Calabrese, Costa, Ghiron and Menichini 2017). For this reason, it can also been indicated stakeholders of these companies are can also attain several information on sustainability in a simple and timely manner that facilitates them in taking important business decisions.

Conclusion

The objective of this paper was to analyze the sustainability reports of Westfield and Woolworths along with discussing the importance of preparing sustainability or IR report. It was gathered from the paper that implementation of GRI sustainability standards in the company focuses on offering assurance regarding developing values of its sustainability report with respect to trust, values, safety, respect as well as excellence. Implementing such standards, Woolworths offer important information to all its internal along with external stakeholders concerning all its sustainability actions offered by GRI. Moreover, in complying with the GRI sustainability standards, both of these retail companies has disclosed important information concerning risk management strategies, measures in dealing with issue of climate change along with offering safe and healthy working environment.

References

Braam, G. and Peeters, R., 2018. Corporate sustainability performance and assurance on sustainability reports: Diffusion of accounting practices in the realm of sustainable development. Corporate Social Responsibility and Environmental Management, 25(2), pp.164-181.

Calabrese, A., Costa, R., Ghiron, N.L. and Menichini, T., 2017. To be, or not to be, that is the Question. Is Sustainability Report Reliable?. European Journal of Sustainable Development, 6(3), pp.519-526.

Calabrese, A., Costa, R., Levialdi, N. and Menichini, T., 2016. A fuzzy analytic hierarchy process method to support materiality assessment in sustainability reporting. Journal of Cleaner Production, 121, pp.248-264.

de Villiers, C., Rinaldi, L. and Unerman, J., 2014. Integrated Reporting: Insights, gaps and an agenda for future research. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 27(7), pp.1042-1067.

Ehnert, I., Parsa, S., Roper, I., Wagner, M. and Muller-Camen, M., 2016. Reporting on sustainability and HRM: A comparative study of sustainability reporting practices by the world’s largest companies. The International Journal of Human Resource Management, 27(1), pp.88-108.

Espinach, L., 2018. 1704b New standard on occupational health and safety reporting.

Global Reporting Initiative, 2015. GRI G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines—Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosure. Retreived at September, 1, p.2017.

Godha, A. and Jain, P., 2015. Sustainability reporting trend in Indian companies as per GRI framework: a comparative study. South Asian Journal of Business and Management Cases, 4(1), pp.62-73.

Kiron, D. and Kruschwitz, N., 2015. Sustainability reporting as a tool for better risk management. MIT Sloan Management Review, 56(4).

Ogata, K., Inoue, S., Ueda, A. and Yagi, H., 2018. The Functional Differentiation Between the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) and the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in the Sphere of Sustainability Reporting. In Accounting for Sustainability: Asia Pacific Perspectives (pp. 261-279). Springer, Cham.

Westfield.com.au., 2018.  Retrieved 11 June 2018, from https://www.westfield group.com.au/icms_docs/189425_corporate-responsibility-report-2017.pdf

Woolworthsgroup.com.au., 2018. Retrieved 11 June 2018, from https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/189426_2017-cr-report-gri-index.pdf