11 December 2003 | Simon Binns
Drinks giant Diageo has been praised for its first Corporate Citizenship Report, which outlines the company's social, environmental and economic performance.
But the report's auditor, the Corporate Citizenship Company (CCC), said that Diageo could be better, even though the company is, in some ways, "a leader in its industry".
The report showed that Diageo was included in the Corporate Responsibility Index top 100, published by Business in the Community, a business ethics pressure group.
The CCC praised Diageo's attitude towards consumer relations and responsible marketing, despite the firm's involvement in a class action in the US, where it is one of seven drinks makers being sued for targeting under-age drinkers - a case which Diageo says it will "vigorously defend".
But the report was also criticised for what the CCC called "important gaps in performance data in some aspects of social responsibility in the supply chain and stakeholder consultation".
In a foreword to the report, Paul Walsh, Diageo's chief executive, acknowledged that the report "casts a clear light on key areas for improvement".
Diageo, whose main brands include Guinness and Baileys, would not comment on where it wanted to improve its performance or reporting.
Michael Tuffrey, a director and co-founder of the CCC, said corporate social reporting was an emerging practice and often more difficult than expected. "Only recently have stakeholders begun to ask about supplier performance and behaviour in the procurement process," he said.
"Usually these haven't been recorded before and the answers are not purely quantitative."
He added: "Companies are trying to be open and accountable, but they have to be given the time to measure performance and quantify the results."
A spokeswoman for the Co-operative Group, one of CSR's pioneers, told SM: "Some indicators of social performance need a longer development phase and may take a number of reporting cycles to implement."