The social audit : marketing ploy or corporate governance : a critical evaluation of the requirements set out in the King II Report, with special reference to the social responsibility report of British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA)

Vorster, Heidi (2003-12)

Thesis (MBA)--Stellenbosch University, 2003.

Thesis

ENGLISH ABSTRACT: The main problem area this dissertation studied is whether there is a place for the social audit in corporate governance, or if it is only used as a marketing tool by organisations to positively influence public opinion in this era where public opinion heavily influences an organisation's bottom line profits. The King II report proposes that all JSE listed companies include nonfinancial issues in their statutory reports. Many companies do not use the process of social responsibility reporting merely to give back what they had previously taken from society, or to ensure their continued existence in the years to come (sustainability) as part of good corporate governance, they use this as a tool to manage their reputation - a marketing ploy. The real issue where the big question lies is: does CSR contribute to good corporate governance and therefore add value, or is it used as a risk management (reputation) tool by most companies? The social report of British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) was chosen as a case study to investigate this hypothesis. The King II report brings corporate governance into the sphere of the social audit report - in that companies must render an account! report if they are accountable to their stakeholders. In terms of good corporate governance, stakeholders need to be taken into account and a social audit needs to be done to report to them on it. A new governance theory has therefore developed with the central concept being that of sustainability (the triple bottom line): financial, envirorunental and social survival of a company and the reporting thereon. The umbrella term is corporate governance and everything that goes with it: CSR, stakeholder inclusivity and the social audit. In all of these, stakeholding (or stakeholder theory) is the central concept - to create value. The social audit is a tool or process of good corporate governance that uses a stakeholder approach to gain information that is later used and embedded in company principles and processes. An internal audit will provide assurance to the organisation as to the quality of its social and ethical accounting/auditing and reporting process, as well as to the organisation's social and ethical performance. It also provides the necessary support to the process of external audit. The external audit process and report provide assurance to the organisation and its stakeholders of the quality of the social and ethical accounting/auditing and reporting process and build credibility in the reporting of the organisation's social and ethical performance. This credibility is needed as a basis of effective engagement with the organisation's stakeholders, and of a common understanding of the organisation's performance. It must establish methods for producing knowledge with application to corporate governance and strategizing. This dissertation comes to the conclusion that the social audit is not a new fonn of marketing; there is a direct link between good corporate governance and the reporting thereon. Although there is always the possibility that there might be a little bit of PR involved in the publishing of a social audit, the process is not only very expensive, but the buy-in from the company as a whole is needed. It does impact on the reputation of a company and on the corporate affairs and governance thereof. So, if a company continues with this exercise, with the sole intention to use it as reputation marketing, should this becomes known the effect might be disastrous. The other side of the argument is that for a company to manage its reputation is definitely part of risk management. Risk management can be seen as the flipside of the coin to perfonnance management - the effect should be the same. How performance is managed is often similar to the way in which risk is managed. It is therefore not true that the social audit is "wellpublicised window-dressing" (Henderson, 2001: 5). On the contrary the social audit is essential to good corporate governance; it is up to the leadership of a company to use it as such.

AFRIKAANSE OPSOMMING: Die kern probleemgebied wat in die verhandeling bestudeer is, is of daar plek is vir die maatskaplike audit in korporatiewe bestuur, en of organisasies dit net gebruik as 'n bemarkingstrategie om die openbare mening positief te beinvloed in die era waar die openbare mening 'n groot invloed het op 'n organisasie se wins. Die King II-verslag stel voor dat alIe JSE-gelyste maatskappye nie-finansiele kwessies by huI statutere verslae insluit. Talle maatskappye gebruik nie die proses van maatskaplike verantwoordelikheid net om terug te gee wat hulle voorheen uit die samelewing geneem het nie, of om as deel van goeie korporatiewe bestuur hul voortgesette bestaan in die komende jare (volhoubaarheid) te verseker nie. Hulle gebruik dit as 'n manier om hul reputasie te bestuur - 'n bemarkingstrategie. Die kwessie waar die groot vraag Iê, is: dra korporatiewe maatskaplike verantwoordelikheid by tot goeie korporatiewe bestuur en voeg dit derhalwe waarde by, of gebruik die meeste rnaatskappye dit as 'n middel tot risikobestuur ter wille van hul reputasie? Die maatskaplike verslag van British American Tobacco South Africa (BATSA) is gekies as 'n gevallestudie om die hipotese te ondersoek. Die King II-verslag bring korporatiewe bestuur binne die sfeer van die maatskaplike ouditverslag met die dat maatskappye 'n verslag moet lewer as hulle verantwoordbaar teenoor hul belanghebbendes is. lngevolge goeie korporatiewe bestuur moet belanghebbendes in ag geneem word en moet 'n maatskaplike oudit gedoen word om aan hulle daaroor verslag te doen. 'n Nuwe bestuursteorie het derhalwe ontwikkel waarvan die kernkonsep volhoubaarheid (die driedubbele winsbasis) is: die finansiele, maatskaplike en omgewingsoorlewing van 'n maatskappy en verslagdoening daaroor. Die sambreelterm is korporatiewe bestuur en alles wat daarmee saamgaan: korporatiewe maatskaplike verantwoordelikheid, die insluiting van belanghebbendes en die maatskaplike oudit. Met al die aspekte is die belanghebberteorie die kernkonsep - om waarde te skep. Die maatskaplike audit is 'n werktuig of proses van goeie korporatiewe bestuur wat 'n belanghebberbenadering gebruik om inligting in te win wat later gebruik en in die maatskappy se beleid en prosesse vasgele word. 'n Interne oudit gee die maatskappy sekerheid oor die gehalte van sy maatskaplike en etiese oudit- en verslagdoeningproses, asook die organisasie se maatskaplike en etiese funksionering. Dit verskaf ook die nodige steun aan die proses van eksterne ouditering. Die eksterne ouditproses en -verslag verskaf sekerheid aan die organisasie en sy belanghebbendes oor die gehalte van die maatskaplike en etiese oudit- en verslagdoeningproses en bou geloofwaardigheid in die verslagdoening van die organisasie se maatskaplike en etiese funksionering. Die geloofwaardigheid word benodig vir die organisasie se belanghebbendes, en 'n gemeenskaplike begrip van die organisasie se prestasie. Dit moet metodes om kennis te produseer vestig wat van toepassing sal wees op korporatiewe bestuur en strategie-bepaling. Die verhandeling kom tot die gevolgtrekking dat die maatskaplike oudit nie 'n nuwe vorm van bemarking is nie - daar is 'n regstreekse verband tussen goeie korporatiewe bestuur en verslagdoening daaroor. Hoewel daar altyd die moontlikheid is dat 'n bietjie skakelwerk betrokke kan wees by die publisering van 'n maatskaplike oudit, is die proses nie net baie duur nie, maar word die betrokkenheid en steun van die maatskappy as geheel benodig. Dit het 'n invloed op die reputasie van 'n maatskappy, asook die korporatiewe sake en die bestuur daarvan. Dus, as 'n maatskappy met die oefening voortgaan met die enigste doelwit om dit as reputasiebemarking te gebruik en dit word bekend, kan die resultaat rampspoedig wees. Die ander kant van die argument is dat die bestuur van sy reputasie vir 'n maatskappy beslis deel van risikobestuur is. Risikobestuur kan beskou word as die een kant van die muntstuk met prestasiebestuur aan die ander kant - die uitwerking behoort dieselfde te wees. Hoe prestasie bestuur word, is dikwels dieselfde as die manier waarop risiko bestuur word. Dit is dus nie waar dat die maatskaplike oudit "goed gepubliseerde vensterversiering" (Henderson, 200 I: 5) is nie. Inteendeel, die maatskaplike oudit is noodsaaklik vir goeie korporatiewe bestuur, en dit hang van die leierskap van 'n maatskappy af om dit as sulks te gebruik.

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