Select a category to see the award winners and judges' comments:
Highly commended last year, M&S wins this time with well-integrated governance reporting that the judges described as “very thorough” and “highly authentic.” The annual report links governance and commercial developments from the start, with the chairman’s introductory letter addressing the year’s performance issues head-on. This openness is sustained throughout the report, with real insights into the board’s areas of focus – notably strategy, governance and risk – and the progress made. One judge commented: “What sets M&S’s reporting apart is that you get a sense of authorship: you feel there’s a real human voice behind it taking responsibility.” Another summed up: “You get a sense that the board is closely connected to the business and actively driving things.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Amanda Mellor, Kevin Ellis
Barclays is highly commended for comprehensive governance reporting that balances length and technical excellence with a highly communicative and engaging approach, reflecting the complexity of the business and the challenges it faces. The judges were especially impressed by the ‘governance in action’ case studies, which provide a rare degree of openness on governance developments such as the appointment of the new CEO. The audit committee reporting is also of a high quality, including the description of the external audit tender process. “The reporting addresses some difficult issues,” commented a judge. “The discussion of the board evaluation process was especially good – I’ve not seen that level of detail anywhere before.”
Succinct and highly innovative governance reporting, which is strongly grounded around a clear set of key messages and includes a separate table that provides a clear explanation of Hammerson’s compliance issues. The judges commented positively on the Q&A section setting out how the board operates, and the unusually detailed information around the audit committee’s work on the viability statement. They also felt that use of case studies was strong, including describing how governance was applied to a major acquisition. A further positive feature was that that the significant accounting issues in the audit committee’s report were linked clearly to the main developments in the business during the year under review.
Aggreko wins the award with well-integrated reporting in which issues raised in the strategic report – such as changes to its business model – are picked up in the governance report, particularly in the chairman’s introduction. The judges noted that this degree of linkage is rarely seen in FTSE 250 reports. They also commented positively on the reporting of the board’s progress against key topics, and the engaging case studies about board visits during the year. “The explanation of why the company considers its reporting to be ‘fair, balanced and understandable’ is especially good,” said one judge. Another added: “After reading it, I had a good understanding of what the business was doing during the year. A very clear report.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Lesley Greenless, Kevin Ellis
The governance report clearly lays out the key activities of the board and committees during the year, signposted using panels headed “In 2015, we:…” to identify the main areas and actions undertaken. The audit committee report provides especially strong disclosures on the effectiveness of the external auditor, the response to significant accounting issues, and internal audit. Some of the more intricate areas of reporting against the 2014 Code are also dealt with very effectively, including a high-quality viability statement and a comprehensive Code compliance statement. “I like the way everything is clearly linked to the business model,” commented a judge, “and the way the reporting explicitly sets out the responsibilities of the directors and company secretary.”
The Unite Group is highly commended for governance reporting that is technically strong yet succeeds in being highly communicative. The chairman’s introduction establishes a direct link between governance and strategy, while also identifying a number of inherently strategic governance priorities for 2016 – a degree of linkage that the judges felt was very unusual in the FTSE 250. There is also an easily-readable table that lays out the annual programme of board activities and explains how it ties in to the key strategic and governance objectives. “I felt the most the powerful reporting is around the results from the AGM, suggesting they’re engaging well with stakeholders,” commented a judge. “And the link to strategic objectives is clear throughout.”
Highly commended last year, Pearson takes first place this time with an honest and engaging remuneration report that is very open about challenges faced during the year. The reporting hits the ground running with a very readable statement from the RemCo chairman, tackling some thorny issues up-front. The judges also commented positively on the table showing the comprehensive single total figure, complete with information including the make-up of each figure or percentage of opportunity. There is also a clear explanation of movements in share interests, including the status of outstanding awards. “The report is very frank about difficulties faced during the year and payments to former directors,” commented a judge. “It feels like the company is declaring issues before it’s challenged on them. I like that.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Stuart Nolan, Laura Hinton
Highly accessible and well-presented reporting that uses tabular information to reduce the text and make complex information comprehensible and accessible. The judges made special mention of the comprehensive “at a glance” section, which clearly sets out three components: actual performance against targets and the resulting pay outcomes; total single figure remuneration for the current and prior years compared with the potential under the policy; and a summary of the remuneration policy itself. “The use of graphics is very effective, especially in showing the various elements of remuneration,” commented one judge. Another added: “I like the fact that IHG’s report is relatively short and compressed. That helps you get a better line of sight across all the information.”
M&S is highly commended for an impressively clear and easily navigable report that tells a coherent story about the company’s approach to executive remuneration, linking rewards explicitly to business KPIs, performance and strategy. The reader is guided through with easy-to-follow colour-coding, and the “at a glance” section is effective, concise and well-presented. One judge described the reporting as “brave” in its openness about the business challenges and tough decisions M&S faced during the year. “M&S knows that anything it says will be closely scrutinised, and that it will get criticised on the quantum,” she added. Another judge commented: “The reporting tells a story that’s very easy to follow. And it answers the basic questions that non-specialists might want to ask.”
Highly informative and engaging remuneration reporting that gets off to a flying start with an excellent letter from the RemCo chairman. One judge commented: “The letter is very candid. It tells you everything you need to know on one page – an overview of business performance and pay outcomes, decisions made, and engagement with shareholders.” Another added: “If you only read that letter, you would have good feel for the decisions the company made and why.” The quality and linkage are sustained throughout, with a well-presented “at a glance” section providing a concise explanation of T&L’s remuneration policy, performance target outcomes and actual pay versus scenarios.
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Anne Minto OBE, Laura Hinton
Genus is highly commended for a well-presented and visually stimulating report enlivened by a clear and concise “at a glance” section, which provides the reader with a good explanation of the company’s remuneration policy and remuneration outcomes on one page. The judges were also impressed by the clarity of the diagram setting out how remuneration is linked to the company’s strategy and corporate goals, and the table showing executives’ alignment to shareholders through shareholdings, together with the potential impacts that share price movements could have. “The one-page summary is especially informative – it cuts through the complexity,” commented a judge.
Last year’s winner of this award is highly commended this time around for a report that maintains the high standards the company has set in previous years. The reporting makes excellent use of tabular information to boost communication and reduce clutter, including an easily-readable table showing the incentive arrangements for all employees, setting out who is eligible and the objectives behind the scheme. There is also a very useful “at a glance” section presenting summarised information on performance outcomes and single figure remuneration versus the policy. A judge commented: “For me, Laird stands out because of its creditable attempt to explain its remuneration structure. Companies should give people the information they need to make their own decisions. Laird does that.”
SSE wins the award with a credible, candid and comprehensive set of people disclosures explicitly linked to its strategy and performance. The reporting succeeds in combining easy accessibility and navigability with a wealth of unusually detailed people-related data and metrics, including a distinctive range of social KPIs. Gender diversity comes through clearly as being key to the organisation, evidenced through very granular disclosures. SSE also shares findings from its annual human capital report on the economic value of the company’s talent and skills, including its investment in the “Barnardo’s Works” programme supporting the young unemployed. A judge commented: “Very convincing reporting: this feels like a company that means what it says, and has integrated people into its strategy at a fundamental level.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, John Stewart, Laura Hinton
Open and visually attractive reporting, demonstrating clearly that people and leadership are cornerstones of CRH’s business strategy. To ensure employees are rewarded fairly, there is strong emphasis on the fact that remuneration is based on the evolving needs of the business, and performance-related awards are linked to both company and individual performance targets. The company’s investments in training and welfare are also highlighted and clearly quantified, with metrics such as the number of hours of training per employee and a breakdown of total training by area of the business. A judge commented: “The disclosures on staff turnover and training stand out as especially informative and positive.”
Taylor Wimpey is highly commended for clear and open people reporting that describes its progress towards its vision for its workforce. The company strongly emphasises the importance of diversity, and discusses its participation in a number of initiatives to combat inequality. It also highlights that it is an award-winning employer in the graduate recruitment field, and openly shares many of the results from its employee survey, underlining its commitment to achieving its 2016 people targets. “I get the impression that Taylor Wimpey is fully committed to putting people at the heart of its strategy, but it’s relatively early days on its journey,” commented a judge. Another added: “I look forward to seeing its reporting develop even further in the coming years.”
Fresnillo wins the award with a clear and engaging strategic report that is well-linked to the company’s business model and performance, and exhibits many aspects of good practice, including particularly strong risks and viability reporting. The judges were especially impressed by the strong divisional reporting, underpinned by detailed information on risks, strategy and sustainability. The reporting is also enlivened by a comprehensive and particularly insightful viability statement that pulls out the most relevant risks and scenarios. “When you look for the strategy, you find it all there on one page,” commented a judge. “And when you follow that through to risks, they’re very clear: it doesn’t just say what each risk is, but sets out the actions taken against it. Overall, very clear and coherent reporting.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Guy Wilson, Gabriella Mayor, Kevin Ellis
A forward-looking and highly engaging strategic report that is well integrated with the company’s business model, and comprehensively explains BT’s performance in the context of its strategic goals. The business model is brought to life through the operational and financial narrative, with specific business priorities set out for the coming three years, and sustainability and “responsible business” ambitions and targets through to 2020. The reporting on strategy also benefits from transparency around the company’s approach to tax, and a highly accessible financial review that explores the underlying drivers of performance, supported by easy-to-understand graphics. “Very comprehensive coverage, with clear presentation of the highlights,” said a judge. Another commented: “I especially like the clear charts and KPIs.”
A highly informative strategic report that provides a clear explanation of the business’s various divisions and good understanding of its customers and markets. The company’s business model, market, and performance by segment are all presented in a unified way, supplemented by forward-looking insights. The judges were especially impressed by the strong overview of the group’s marketplace and positioning within it, and by the clear commitment to responsible business embedded within the strategy. “The focus on customers shines through,” commented one judge. Another added: “From the report you get a crystal clear view of how the business makes money for its shareholders.”
A lively and visually engaging strategic report, characterised by its strong focus on the importance of stakeholder relationships and its distinctive risks reporting – which are clearly linked back to the business model and strategy. The reader’s interest is sustained throughout by a coherent and well-signposted narrative flow enlivened by insightful case studies and relevant insights. The judges were especially impressed by the comprehensive risk management disclosures, which include a discussion of how the company uses the strategy to set its risk appetite, an explanation of key risk indicators, and an exploration of possible events that may impact on risk. “The Q&A with the chief executive is very interesting,” commented a judge, “and there’s a good mix of financial and non-financial KPIs.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Christopher Szpojnarowicz, Kevin Ellis
A consistently strong strategic report underpinned by a set of clear themes, and set apart by an outstanding explanation of the dynamics of its marketplace and how Great Portland Estates has responded. The underpinning of strategy is demonstrated by the way operational performance is framed around the company’s strategic priorities linked to the relevant KPIs and risks. The judges commented very positively on the company’s explanation of how the property market works – with one judge describing this section as “phenomenally informative”, and another saying it would be “hugely helpful to anyone wanting to understand the market.” They also praised the comprehensive insights into culture and people, and the clear identification and exploration of the key relationships central to the group’s success.
Kier Group is highly commended for a forward-looking and well-integrated strategic report that clearly establishes linkage between its strategy, business model and KPIs, while also considering its wider resources and relationships. The company’s “Vision 2020” plan and associated targets are a consistent theme throughout, and the discussion of principal risks is especially well thought-through, with each risk ranked, linked to strategic priorities and presented with individual heat-maps. The judges were also impressed with Kier’s clear reporting on how it manages and measures the key resources and relationships that are central to its business model and strategy. A judge commented: “The reporting on the company’s strategic priorities and vision is particularly extensive. And the use of graphics to rank its various risks is very effective.”
Winner of this award in 2012, Unilever regains top spot with a report that is founded on a clear strategy, and which benchmarks the company’s entire value chain against both short- and long-term sustainability goals. The deep integration of sustainability into the business strategy shines through, not least in the excellent case studies, which show how Unilever is capitalising on the opportunities presented by sustainability and how this contributes to its business success. There is also detailed disclosure of the measures to incentivise employees to deliver the company’s Sustainable Living Plan, including linking progress on sustainability to executive remuneration. One judge commented: “This report shows the potential for a truly global business to impact the world positively, by acting in a responsible way that builds trust though a commitment to sustainability.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Rose Fenn, Gemma Bridgman, Paul Matthews, Jon Andrews
BT’s sustainability reporting considers an extremely wide range of issues, and links its own sustainability strategy and actions to the broader context of global megatrends and the UN Sustainable Development Goals. The company examines both upstream and downstream impacts in detail, and explains clearly how it takes stakeholders into account in determining the materiality of sustainability issues. It also provides an in-depth discussion of responsible sourcing, its customers’ environmental impact and how it’s aiding its customers’ online safety. “The company really is on the front foot – its analysis of the external environment and implications of the UN SDGs is excellent,” commented a judge. Another added: “BT’s goals are very ambitious. It’s especially good on supply chain and linkage to strategy.”
Kingfisher’s reporting is based around its sustainability strategy that integrates upstream and downstream impacts, and includes both long-term aspirations for 2050 and a shorter-term five-year plan. The company clearly articulates the business rationale for sustainability, and publishes a separate, detailed appendix to its sustainability report that provides detailed KPI year on year performance, together with progress analysis on all their targets. Consideration of the whole value chain includes looking at how Kingfisher products can help customers live in more sustainable homes. “The linkage up and down the supply chain and through into consumer use is very good,” commented a judge. “You get the feeling there’s genuine integration of sustainability into the business.”
Clear, accessible reporting that sets out DS Smith’s sustainability strategy very well and describes how stakeholder engagement drives the reporting of their material issues. The analysis of the company’s value chain is very comprehensive, particularly its downstream impacts on customers, and the narrative on strategic goals illustrate how the sustainability strategy integrates with its core business model. The focus on upstream impacts includes engaging with suppliers on sourcing sustainable materials, and the company shows its awareness of current development by describing its role in facilitating “the circular economy”. One judge commented: “You get a sense that the linkage between the business strategy and sustainability is strong and working well. The company tells a really clear end-to-end story along its value chain.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Adrian Marsh, Jon Andrews
Winner of this award for the past three years, Carillion is highly commended this time for a well-designed and visually engaging report that clearly sets out long- and short-term sustainability targets, and provides detailed measures of progress towards them. A wide range of sustainability risks and opportunities are described, together with strategies regarding each, and an in-depth analysis of the company’s sustainable procurement processes and approach to creating green buildings. The sustainability targets are explicitly structured around those issues that are most material to Carillion and its stakeholders. “I especially like the vignette case studies – they really bring the issues to life” said a judge. Another added: “Carillion’s reporting on sustainability targets, risks and opportunities is hard to beat.”
Croda’s sustainability reporting is well set-out and accessible, and is set apart by its strong grounding in the company’s business model, which it uses to explain the resources used and value created, identify its key stakeholders, and explain its sustainability issues. The reporting provides detailed coverage of both upstream and downstream impacts in Croda’s value chain, and describes how it engages with its most important stakeholder groups to identify material issues. Sustainability is also considered across the product lifecycle, including beyond Croda’s direct operations, with data on responsible sourcing and examples of its products’ sustainability benefits. “The linkage from business drivers to issues and stakeholders is very clear,” commented a judge. Another added: “Lots of very good detail and interesting case studies.”
Plymouth University becomes the first academic institution to win this award, with a highly readable and visually attractive report that shows clearly how sustainability is integrated into the university’s overall strategy. The report sets out the “journey” for how sustainability has changed from 1994 to 2015, and describes a strong materiality process that identifies the university’s key environmental, economic and social issues. These are then linked to well-developed KPIs with clear performance reporting. Strong stakeholder engagement is also demonstrated with both the community and students, and there is good use of graphs and infographics throughout. “Issues and actions are presented in a straightforward and accessible way,” commented a judge. Another summed up: “The reporting tells a clear story very well.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Dr Samantha Price, Jon Andrews
A frequent nominee for this award in recent years, the Home Office is highly commended for a clearly set-out sustainability report that examines how its overall remit is linked to sustainability issues across environmental, social and economic perspectives. These issues link to policies and their financial implications, including through research into areas such as the carbon cost of crime. The materiality section has been improved, with fuller disclosures on the materiality process and future plans, and there is strong use of graphics and icons throughout, aiding navigation and accessibility. “The Home Office is a huge and very complex organisation – and it deserves great credit for analysing its sustainability impacts at this level of detail,” commented a judge.
NHS BSA’s sustainability reporting is well-signposted across multiple documents, and provides detailed insights into the organisation’s sustainability goals and objectives, closely linked to its wider strategic purpose. The judges felt the materiality process was especially strong, complete with linkages to the corporate strategy and objectives. Detailed analysis is provided of sustainability threats and opportunities, including the relative importance of each issue to stakeholders, and thorough action plans for environmental and resource efficiency through to 2020. “The detailed setting-out of action plans is one of its strongest points,” commented a judge. Another added: “NHS BSA stood out by the way it integrates its sustainability disclosures from the stand-alone report into its annual report as well.”
Highly commended last year, Vodafone goes one better this time with a set of tax disclosures that go well beyond those from most other multinationals. Spread across the company’s annual report and three other publications, Vodafone’s tax disclosures include a sensitivity analysis of the group’s deferred tax – something rarely seen in company reports – and a detailed analysis of taxes paid around the world, expanded this year with more detailed narrative on each country. The judges were also impressed by Vodafone’s in-depth explanation of how a large company with high revenue can have a low corporation tax charge. A judge commented: “What shines out for me is that way Vodafone itemises common concerns around tax and then discusses the big ones, tackling them head-on.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, John Connors, Kevin Nicholson
Last year’s winner is highly commended for open, accessible tax reporting that stresses the responsibility of business to contribute to society. Since 2013, SABMiller has published a separate standalone report called “Our Approach to Tax”, which it has expanded this year with further explanatory detail on a number of complex areas – including incentives operating within the group, transactions giving rise to transfer pricing issues, and the new UK tax strategy reporting requirements. The disclosures also include informative commentary on the current tax debate, together with case studies on the group’s operations and impact in different countries. “This is a very clear exposition of how tax relates to activities in developing areas of the world,” said a judge.
Unilever’s detailed and comprehensive tax reporting is split between its annual report and a separate web page dedicated to tax, which goes into depth on its tax strategy, governance and taxes paid by type and region. The web page contains a section on “Our tax principles”, which provides a concise explanation of how the company’s tax risk framework mitigates five key risks, together with a practical example of the framework in operation. “What strikes me in Unilever’s tax reporting is how clear it is about its underlying principles,” commented a judge. Another added: “The reporting explains the problem, tells us why it’s difficult, and then says why they do what they do.”
Anglo American wins this award for the second year running for its open and highly engaging reporting centred on its “Tax & Economic Contribution report 2015”. The report highlights the company’s payments to governments and spending on socio-economic development in countries around the world, complete with a detailed analysis of the tax charge and further insights into specific items. The judges were especially impressed by the explanation of how the tax contribution varies throughout the economic cycle of a mine, showing how a mine making losses can still make a contribution from non-profit taxes. “This is a very good explanation of what Anglo is paying,” said a judge. Another added: “I really like the narrative sections – and including the socio-economic development spend is useful.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Alan McPherson, Kevin Nicholson
Having adopted a more detailed approach to tax disclosures this year with the launch of a new report – “Economic Contribution and payments to government 2015” – BHP Billiton has raised its game in this vital area, and is highly commended for its efforts. The new report provides more granular tax disclosures, supplemented by descriptive illustrations mapping out the company’s transparency journey and showing how payments to governments form part of its total economic contribution. The judges also noted the new narrative provided this year on BHPBilliton’s approach to tax havens. One member of the panel commented: “The chart showing the company’s global value chain and its related economic contribution is especially impressive.”
Rio Tinto, a longstanding leader in tax reporting in the extractives industry, repeats last year’s “highly commended” with an open and comprehensive set of disclosures that paint a clear picture of its tax affairs. The company’s “Taxes Paid Report” demonstrates its commitment to increasing its disclosures year-on-year, providing details on the number of subsidiaries in countries considered as tax havens, as well as the taxes paid by type of tax in each jurisdiction, summarised by region. The report also includes a dedicated page explaining the company’s tax policies and how it applies these to its business globally. “I especially like the discussion about how Rio Tinto works with tax authorities around the world,” said a judge.
Rank Group retains the award with clear and well-presented tax reporting based around a “Tax fact file” summarising the information on its tax strategy and performance in one place. The judges praised the detailed coverage of the company’s effective tax rate and cash tax rate, complete with an explanation of how the rates are expected to perform in the future – a forward-looking perspective that is rarely seen in annual reports. Rank also provides narrative on its litigation to reclaim VAT, including detail on the background, status and amounts involved. “The disclosures on the effective tax rate are especially good,” commented a judge. Another said: “This is very clear reporting – well laid out, and well-articulated in its discussion of different taxes.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Clare Cruickshank, Kevin Nicholson
Lloyds Banking Group Plc is highly commended for easily-navigable tax reporting that addresses a number of issues head-on – including why it has not paid UK corporation tax in recent years. The judges felt the narrative on the ‘recoverability of deferred tax assets’ was clear and comprehensive, providing a good explanation of how recoverability is determined. The reporting – which is split between the company’s website and annual report – also includes narrative on the current and forecast effective tax rate. A judge commented: “This narrative enhances understanding of the group’s tax affairs.”
Very clear and accessible tax reporting, in which the group’s tax policies and objectives are explicitly set out and aligned with its wider business objectives. The use of incentives is discussed in detail, and an explanation is provided for what is driving the tax charge, together with the underlying and forecast rates. The judges were also impressed by the disclosures on tax risks, linked directly to the group’s general risk management framework. “I especially like the way United Utilities’ reporting establishes a connection between corporate behaviour and tax policies – and its discussion of the wider reasons why tax is important,” said a judge.
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