Highly commended in 2015 and winner last year, M&S repeats its success with a consistently strong governance report that focuses on activities rather than responsibilities, and provides a wealth of detail about the work carried out by the board and committees. The judges were impressed by the personal tone of the reporting – particularly in the Chairman’s frank and open governance overview – and the clear account of how the board’s decisions have impacted a range of stakeholders. “You really feel that the board is behind this report,” commented one panel member. Another added: “The company acknowledges that it’s not just shareholders who will read this report, but other stakeholders as well.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Amanda Mellor, Ben Peters, Paul Lee
SSE is highly commended for a technically very sound governance report, marked out by its clear focus on governance ‘hot topics’ such as succession planning, stakeholder engagement and corporate culture, all of which are explored in the Chairman’s introduction. The disclosures on the board’s activities during the year are equally open and detailed, with good coverage of the board’s involvement in key areas such as strategy, and in significant developments in the business, including a major disposal. The judges praised the use of case studies to bring these aspects of the reporting to life.
The Unite Group – the sole representative of the FTSE 250 on the shortlist – is highly commended for the second year running, for a characteristically clear and concise governance report that avoids over-complication and unnecessary verbiage. The chairman’s introduction sets the tone with an easily-accessible table that links governance to strategy and risks, and spells out forward-looking priorities for the board. The open reporting culture is further underlined by the disclosure of the questions used in the board evaluation. “This is really good to see” commented a member of the judging panel. “They’ve clearly thought deeply about their reporting.”
Saga’s reporting on executive remuneration is set apart by its clarity and transparency, with one judge commenting: “I can’t recall seeing this level of disclosure before.” The reporting includes the equity exposure of executive directors through shareholding and unvested share awards, and a detailed explanation of how the Remuneration Committee exercised discretion with regard to annual bonus payments as a result of the change in the Ogden rate. The judges felt one of the most impressive elements was the coverage of relative rewards at levels below executive director – providing a “cascade of incentives through the organisation” that one panel member described as “brilliant.” Another judge summed up: “From an innovation perspective, this report is simply the best.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Sheila Clancy, Freddie Woolfe, Jeannette Andrews
Highly commended last year, M&S returns with an open and well-presented executive remuneration report distinguished by its personal tone and clarity on individual objectives and achievements. “It communicates the company’s diverse range of performance targets in a very visual way,” said a judge. Another added: “The summary of policy and proposed changes during the year is short and to the point – making it very helpful and effective.” The judges were also impressed by the disclosures on future payouts, and the alignment of M&S’s remuneration KPIs with its strategic objectives, again illustrated through an easy-to-read infographic.
Schroders’ executive remuneration report provides detailed disclosures on the inter-relationship between executive pay and mean and median employee pay, including the CEO:employee pay ratio over the previous eight-year period. “The reporting on the broader pay base is very good,” commented a judge. “And the disclosures on performance against KPIs are great.” The panel also noted the detailed reporting on the profit share ratio and compensation ratio for the whole group compared with the prior year, and the strong focus on diversity. A member described the reporting on diversity targets and coverage of the gender pay gap as “impressive”.
SSE wins the award for the second year running, with an authentic and highly credible report that the judges felt mirrored the issues actually discussed at board level. The disclosures are built around a clear focus on two strategic priority areas – skills shortages and greater diversity – with SSE opting to be an early adopter of the draft gender pay gap regulations. An innovation that particularly impressed the judging panel was the quantification of the returns on the company’s investment in improving diversity, including a target of a £15 return on every £1 invested. “This is head and shoulders above other people reporting,” commented a judge. “SSE’s reporting is in a different class,” added another. “The finance people are deeply involved in it, and it feels like it’s for real. Above all, it’s joined up.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Sally Fairbairn, Jeannette Andrews, Freddie Woolfe
Royal Mail is highly commended for comprehensive yet highly readable people reporting with a strong focus on gender diversity and equality. The company’s disclosures major on the fact that it offers the best pay and terms and conditions in its industry, and links this directly to higher service standards for consumers. It also stresses that providing support for employee health and wellbeing is a priority – a focus highlighted by several panel members. “The reporting is especially good on mental health,” commented one of the judges. “It’s a hard subject to acknowledge and act on, and Royal Mail deserves credit for doing so.”
Standard Chartered’s candid and well-presented people reporting is set apart by showing people KPIs alongside more traditional performance measures, underlining the linkage of its people disclosures to strategy and business model. As with the other shortlisted reports, diversity & inclusion is a major focus, with a particular priority around improving gender diversity in the top levels of management. The judges commented on the open and honest reporting on KPIs that show opportunities for improvement, and praised the inclusion of a wealth of data, enabling the reader to drill down into the business’s people performance should they choose to do so.
British Land wins the award with a dynamic and cohesive strategic report that provides a vivid description of how the business creates value, and establishes clear linkage between its strategy and corporate social responsibility. The risk disclosures are particularly insightful, detailing the company’s appetite for risks and describing the key changes to the company's risk profile. The financial review also makes striking use of illustrations and uniquely discloses its 'five guiding principles' to discuss the Group's financing approach. ‘A judge commented: “This is a really good and accessible reporting – with a mixture of diagrams, words and pictures that makes it easy for the layman to read.” A fellow panellist praised the modelling of different risk scenarios in the report, and another judge summed up: “British Land really explains where it sits in the market, and shows clearly how well it understands it.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Charles Middleton, Ben Peters, Paul Lee
Aggreko is highly commended for a well-presented and data-rich strategic report built around four strategic priorities aligned to its key resources and relationships. Compelling case studies are used skilfully to underpin and enliven the reporting, which is supported by clearly-defined KPIs and targets linked to strategy and remuneration. The judges felt that the ‘customer journey’ case study was especially powerful. “The reporting provides a very effective description of what the business does,” commented a panel member. Another said: “The KPIs are especially interesting because Aggreko explains their relevance and why it tracks them.” A third judge added: “The sections on ‘what sets us apart’ and ‘how we’re responding to our customers’ needs are fantastic. They’re something every company should do.”
Mondi’s sustainability reporting – dubbed “concise and readable” by a member of the judging panel – describes clearly how a commitment to sustainability is integral to the company’s purpose, strategy and business model, and drives its focus on delivering innovative and sustainable packaging and paper solutions. Mondi’s commitment to sustainability is turned into reality through 10 action areas and 16 clearly-defined commitments by 2020, each with strong ties to sustainability and explicit linkage to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). “It comes across clearly that the sustainability strategy has been considered at board level,” commented one of the judges. “And the company uses external indicators and tools to assess impacts, which adds credibility.” Another added: “This is truly integrated reporting: I love the way the SDGs are central to it.”
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, Clara Valera, Tanya Patterson, Richard Howitt, Charles Tilley OBE
Croda is highly commended for the second successive year for sustainability reporting that’s marked out by its compelling coverage of the company’s supply chain impacts, both upstream and downstream. “The disclosures address the broad range of people that the company engages with indirectly, as well as directly through its own business,” commented one judge. There’s clear integration between Croda’s strategic priorities and sustainability-related objectives, together with a detailed outline of the company’s progress against the previous year’s sustainability targets. The judges were impressed by the tightly focused references to the UN’s SDGs, with one panellist commenting: “Sustainability seems to be a central part of Croda’s DNA, which makes it distinct in the speciality chemicals industry.”
Landsec’s stand-alone sustainability report tells a clear story about how sustainability is incorporated into the company’s wider risk management, supported by detailed coverage of mitigation measures and relevant KPIs monitoring its performance. The reporting also describes vividly how Landsec’s 12 sustainability commitments are embedded into its development work and tracked against targets. The judges singled out the company’s use of external science-based sustainability targets and well-presented reporting on its end-to-end value chains impacts, as well as the strong use of infographics to convey complex information. One judge commented: “I love the risk map – especially since it provides disclosures both pre and post mitigation. This is what every company should be doing.”
Highly commended in 2015 and a winner last year, Vodafone is awarded first place once again with a tax report in which it expands its country-by-country reporting and coverage of its contribution to include revenue and profits for each region. Described by one panel member as “a great read”, the reporting underlines the high priority that Vodafone accords to its tax risk management policy by stating categorically that “there are no exceptions.” One judge commented: “Vodafone has built on what it’s done in the past with impressive detail on the tax it pays and the governance procedures it applies.” Another summed up: “Vodafone’s tax reporting puts it in a league of its own.” The company also supplements its transparent tax disclosures by publishing various other reports on its approach to tax.
Shown here (left to right): Mary Nightingale, John Connors, Charles
Tilley OBE, Richard Howitt
In addition to the tax disclosures in its annual report, Barclays also publishes a standalone “Country Snapshot” report, which it has enhanced this year with a clear articulation of its tax principles and tax code of conduct, and a visually-engaging breakdown of taxes paid by region. The reconciliation of statutory to effective tax rate is detailed and well-explained, with a useful breakdown of recurring and non-recurring items, and explanations of key drivers. “Very readable and clear tax reporting,” commented one member of the judging panel. Another added: “Barclays’ tax reporting will help the layman understand tax.”
Prudential has expanded its tax reporting this year to include a separate standalone tax report that complements and supplements the tax disclosures in its annual report. The judges were impressed with the level of detail the new report provided on Prudential’s approach to managing its tax affairs, and the helpful Q&A section explaining key terms and phrases. They also singled out the clear reconciliation and breakdown of cash tax paid versus the effective tax rate – one judge described this as “excellent” – supported by an easily-understood “waterfall” diagram. Several judges commented on the succinctness of Prudential’s tax reporting, feeling that this made it more accessible to the non-expert reader.