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15 Feb, 2012

As Trust Frays, Corporate Focus on Sustainability Reporting Grows – KPMG

NEW YORK, Feb. 14, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — Corporate leaders are focusing increasingly on long-term sustainable opportunities to gain a competitive edge, in part by taking a critical look at their operations to manage supply chain and other risks, said John B. Veihmeyer, chairman of KPMG’s Americas region and Chairman and CEO of KPMG LLP (U.S.), in remarks to more than 600 executives on opening day of KPMG’s global “Business Perspective on Sustainable Growth: Preparing for Rio+20” summit.

“Many companies now see an opportunity to get ahead of the competition and position themselves for the long-term by using sustainability as a lens to critically assess their businesses,” said Veihmeyer. “The topic of sustainable growth has moved from the peripheral to a core business strategy issue. CEOs more and more believe that implementing sustainability programs will contribute to the bottom line, either by cost reduction or increased profitability.”

In addition, he said that reporting to stakeholders on an organization’s sustainability efforts has come under increased focus, as organizations work to ensure that data around their sustainability activities are accurately measured and reported.

“In this era of declining trust in the corporate world, the need for transparency is crucial to ensure an organization’s stakeholders can clearly understand its sustainability activities and performance,” he said. “More than 95 percent of the Global 250 companies now report their sustainability efforts to stakeholders. However, restatements of corporate responsibility reporting are four times higher compared to financial reporting, demonstrating that corporate responsibility reporting has a way to go.”

“The time has now come to enhance Corporate Responsibility (CR) reporting information systems to bring them up to the level that is equal to financial reporting, including a comparable quality of governance controls and management to maintain standards and stakeholder confidence,” he said.

“There is a growing acceptance in the ‘new normal’ that companies must craft long-term solutions. There is widespread and growing acceptance that companies need to take a critical look at their own operations – we cannot continue with business as usual. This applies across a broad spectrum of areas,” said Veihmeyer, “from how we finance our current operations and growth plans to how we are managing risks in the supply chain, risks such as limited supply of rare earth metals, water shortages or increased waste disposal costs.”

Veihmeyer said KPMG is working to help organizations understand the opportunity side of the sustainability equation, not just the risk.