A study completed by Singapore Compact and released at the Singapore Accountancy Convention in November suggested that while sustainability reporting remains in its early stages, Singapore-listed companies may be performing better than they report, with the potential to capitalise on further benefits.
The study focused on a broad overview of mainboard-listed companies, and came in the wake of the Singapore Exchange's (SGX) release of sustainability reporting guidelines at the end of June 2011. Figures for reporting increased significantly between 2009 and 2010, with corporate governance having the highest reporting rates across the board, compared to other areas of reporting such as the environment and labour issues. 79 out of the 562 mainboard-listed companies at the end of 2010 (excluding REITS and Catalist) had some form of non-financial reporting, with some reports being well-structured and comprehensive.
While the high rate of reporting for corporate governance may be due to the mandatory requirements under the Code of Corporate Governance, companies such as SGX and F&N stood out for additional voluntary disclosures and details on governance procedures and board members. Property developers such as Capitaland, CDL and Keppel Land also led in workforce and labour-related disclosures, as well as environmental indicators.
However, reporting rates on anti-corruption, labour practices and product responsibility were lower than expected given the overall performance and standards in these areas in Singapore. This suggests that companies may be performing well in some non-financial areas, but may not see these as indicators to report or areas of interest to stakeholders, hence pointing to a possible gap in understanding of non-financial reporting practices and areas of relevance.