Half of Singapore finance leaders say their company falls short in sustainability reporting: Survey

Attitudes toward sustainability reporting were different across various industries in Singapore.
Attitudes toward sustainability reporting were different across various industries in Singapore.ST PHOTO: BENJAMIN SEETOR

SINGAPORE - Half of finance leaders in Singapore said their company falls short in reporting its triple bottom line of people, planet and profit.

A report published on Wednesday (April 22) by Workday, a financial management and human capital management software firm, showed that while the majority of finance leaders of large companies are producing the reports, slightly over half believe their companies are doing a good job of reporting on aspects of sustainability.

Over 300 vice-presidents in audit or compliance, C-suite executives in accounting and directors in financial planning were interviewed for the report last February and March in Australia, New Zealand, Singapore and Hong Kong. All respondents are from companies with 1,500 or more employees.

Over 80 per cent of the finance leaders in Singapore surveyed said they produced the sustainability reports, but only 54.5 per cent said their companies did well in reporting environmental and social impact and governance.

Workday said in a statement: "Understanding the impact of companies beyond financial performance is especially important in the face of the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. With global businesses facing prolonged disruption, finance leaders will need to examine their supply chains (more closely), as well as manage operations sustainably and in accordance with health protocols for their teams."

Over a quarter of Singapore finance leaders who responded to the survey felt that such sustainability reporting should not be mandatory, and 76 per cent also said it was more important for multinational corporations than local firms.

Attitudes toward sustainability reporting were also different across various industries.

Finance leaders here see manufacturing as the most crucial industry for reporting the triple bottom line, followed by finance and then transport and logistics.

Retail and travel and tourism ranked lowest.

 
 
 

Listed companies have been required by the Singapore Exchange to prepare an annual sustainability report since 2017.

Workday said: "With workplaces all over the world undergoing substantial transformation for social distancing, finance professionals can make use of technology to have a better overview of their sustainability performance and to implement initiatives to improve this."

 Mr Tan Lee Thong, chief financial officer practice lead for Asia at Workday, said: "While it is encouraging to see strong adoption of triple bottom line reporting, it is concerning that so many business leaders still do not fully buy into the benefits of holding their companies accountable to more than just profits."

He added that technology like new and advanced data analytic platforms can help track sustainability metrics to refined levels, providing real-time reporting of performance and monitoring of issues.