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Sanford’s integrated reports have set a new standard for corporate transparency in New Zealand.
The astounding repositioning of Sanford in the New Zealand corporate landscape under a new CEO was essentially etched in stone by the company’s ambitious determination to report along international Integrating Reporting guidelines. In so doing, they have established integrated reporting as the ‘right way’ for the future of reporting across corporate New Zealand.
This third edition of their integrated report takes the principle even further.
Even after the success of the previous two years’ integrated reports, we couldn’t rest on our laurels. Having cleared high hurdles in the previous two years, Sanford raised the bar even higher for their 2016 integrated annual report.
With a new GM Sustainability on board, even more rigour was applied to clarifying relevant stakeholders and the most material issues. And while there was less work needed to tell the new Sanford story, there was a lot more effort required to sharpen the messages and meld the multiple threads into a cohesive and holistic whole.
And while some business leaders feel that Sanford have perhaps ‘opened their kimono’ (to quote Sanford’s CEO, Volker Kuntsch) a little too far, Volker was defiant. He believes that there’s no such thing. That honesty and accountability focuses the mind on ever doing the right thing, doing it better, and improving society and the business itself, in utter harmony.
One of the challenges that this approach created for the whole team was the pure volume of additional data that was reported on this year – and in an even tighter timeframe.
Whereas the previous two years had kicked the report off with necessary repositioning activities (How we see the sea, and Salt in our veins), this year we decided to really stick our necks out on our approach to accountability. While some were a little concerned that ‘Uncompromising Care’ might come back to bite if there was any underperformance in any area, the considered view was that if we really mean what we say, then we should have the guts to say it and live with the consequences. That’s a pretty bold and uncompromising position to take to communications in Insight’s experience.
This year, we took fewer spreads to unpack this cover notion – elaborating clearly the material areas that this uncompromising care was applied to: the oceans, the environment, Sanford’s people, the community, shepherding the business itself, and of course, to the food they produce.
And then it was on to structuring the reporting story, cohesively grouping the data and joining the dots and getting on with presenting a veritable encyclopaedia of material information, clearly and professionally.
Increasing transparency lifted the page count to 186 pages this year, from 118 the year before. While the International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) cite succinctness as one of the advantages of integrated reporting because a company can distill the topics to be reported on down to only ‘material’ matters, the global fishing industry needs to work harder than most to address a multitude of issues that stakeholders view as material. And Sanford purposefully elected full transparency as preferable to succinctness for what they wanted to achieve.
Other corporates are scrambling to catch up, seeing Sanford’s achievement as a long-term aspiration for their own organisations. And this third edition takes the principle so much further, creating even greater distance between Sanford and other companies’ aspirations.