Thursday, August 30, 2007

Korea: Trends in transparency

A research institute affiliated with Korea's main independant daily The Hankyoreh released the results of their look at sustainability reporting in that country.

The large South Korean multi-nationals, known as "Chaebol" have really made their name on the global stage as big consumer brands - Samsung, LG, Hyundai, and Korean Air as examples. Stockbrokers are surely pleased with the level of transparency about financial performance, but how do these companies stack up in terms of transparency on economic, environmental, and social performance?

The Hankyoreh researchers found that Korean companies are strongest when it comes to reporting on environmental performance and product responsibility. Their analysis reveals that the level of transparency on human rights.

On a scale of 100, the highest score went to Yuhan-Kimberly with 57. Korea South-East Power came second with 55, followed by POSCO and Daewoo Securities with 52 each, finally Samsung and Korea Electric Power rounded out the top cluster with 48 points. A total of 22 companies were ranked overall. Of the top scorers, all use the GRI Guidelines as the basis for reporting except Daewoo Securities.

The lead author Lee Won-jae thought the results were positive and although past benchmarks are not available, he commented that the shift to greater transparency and the fact that most Chaebol embrace the global norm for reporting is a good sign. This group will continue to monitor trends in reporting in Korea into the future.

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