I’ve been a member of the Building Public Trust Awards (BPTA) independent judging panel for nine years, including seven as chairman. Over that time the awards and the reporting by all forms of organisations has evolved very significantly, reflecting shifts in the environment driving the need for both better reporting and trust-building. This year the judging process has seen further innovation, although of course there is still more to do.
Recognising and rewarding honest, accessible and impactful corporate reporting remains at the heart of the awards. Innovation is key in achieving these qualities, as underlined by the introduction this year of a new award for innovation in reporting in organisations of all types. And looking across all the awards, a wider change this year is that the assessment process for identifying the shortlists – and the independent judging panel’s deliberations on the winner – considered organisations’ societal contribution and impacts.
Key to this is organisations’ ability to combine the delivery of positive societal impacts with effective monitoring and reporting of those impacts, in order to demonstrate the shared value created. For our judging panel, this widening of the focus was supported by two new elements.
One was PwC’s hosting of a “people’s panel” of 15 members of the public, to assess the reporting by all the nominees. The views from the people’s panel were collected and provided as inputs to the independent judging panel. Interestingly there was consistently close alignment between the insights from the people’s panel and those of the PwC assessors and independent judges.
The other new element was that this year’s judging process had fresh input and perspectives from PwC’s tool, the ‘Trustworthy Organisation Model’ (TOM). This filters millions of digital conversations by different stakeholders to evaluate perceptions of how trustworthy an organisation is and, critically, how closely this aligns to their corporate reporting. While still at an early stage of development, this input was valuable and thought-provoking.
In combination with these new elements, we also allowed more time for discussion on each award – thus providing space for the most fruitful and wide-ranging debates I’ve experienced to date.
So, what did we make overall of this year’s crop of reports? While there was some excellent reporting in every category, our sense was that this has largely been a year of consolidation rather than innovation – with the pace of improvement seen in previous years appearing to have plateaued somewhat. We also felt that businesses, the public sector and other organisations are generally struggling to explain effectively in their reporting how they are creating value and their impact on their key stakeholders.
These challenges underline the importance of clearly addressing why an organisation’s business model is sustainable, and providing real insight into how issues are addressed. Also, a key characteristic of today’s leaders in corporate reporting across all categories is that they take pains to identify and understand their various stakeholders, and then provide a clear picture of the outcomes that the organisation’s actions have generated for them.
The organisations nominated this year are on a journey towards doing this – and I thank and congratulate them for setting a lead for others to follow. As ever, my thanks also go to my fellow judges for their hard work, insight and dedication to the cause.