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Corporate Responsibility And Woolworths Group

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Question:

Discuss about the Corporate Responsibility and Woolworths Group.
 
 

Answer:

Introduction

In today’s business era, Corporate Social Responsibilities (CSR) is considered as considered as one of the major success factors. CSR refers to the movement aims to encourage business organizations to be more aware about the impact of their business on the environment, society and their stakeholders (Tai and Chuang 2014). Thus, it can be said that CSR is a particular business approach contributing towards sustainable development by delivering environmental, social and economic benefits to all the stakeholders. The main aim of this report is to analyze various aspects of CSR is respect to a major Australian food and hardware retain company, Woolworths Limited (WOW).

Different kinds of theories can be seen for representing the CSR activities of the business organizations. One of such theories is Legitimacy Theory. It needs to be mentioned that Legitimacy Theory is based on the notion that there is a social contract between a business organizations and the society in which the company is operating (Lanis and Richardson 2012). For this reason, business organizations try to legitimize their corporate activities by engaging in CSR reporting in order to get approval from the society. This particular theory puts emphasis on the aspect that the interrelation between the business organizations and the society can be considered as a reality of the social life. Moreover, this theory also states that the existence of the business organizations largely depends on both the market strengths and social expectations (Fernando and Lawrence 2014). For this reason, the fulfillment of the community and environmental expectations is a major perquisite for the survival of the organizations. Hence, it is the social responsibility of the business organizations to keep their social position by responding towards the requirements of the societies.

It needs to be mentioned that there is a relations between the legitimacy theory and the voluntary disclosure about social and environmental performance of the Australian Stock Exchange (ASX) listed companies.  In the year 2014, ASX updated their requirements related to non-financial disclosure (theconversation.com 2018). As per the update, the ASX listed companies are required to disclose their sustainability and environmental performance in case their business activities have material effects on the environment and community. More specifically, the ASX listed companies now requires to disclose their economic, social and environmental performance at the same time. As a result of this new standard, the majority portion of the ASX listed companies are publishing their sustainability performance in the annual reports (theconversation.com 2018). It is the voluntary requirement for the business organizations under ASX to comply with this principle and must provide the details about their non-financial performance. Companies failing to do so will be delisted from ASX.

 


In Australia, Woolworths Limited is considered as a well-known retail company due to their publication of non-financial performance or CSR activities. From the analysis of the annual report of Woolworths from the period from 2015 to 2017, it can be observed that the company has mentioned some of their CSR activates in their annual report (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). However, the analysis indicates towards one fact that Woolworths have disclosed very less issues of CSR in their annual report from 2015 to 2017. The company has not mentioned anything about their CSR issues in the contents of the report (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). Apart from this, the company has not followed any particular theme for the reporting of CSR issues in the annual report from 2015 to 2017. Some similarities can be spotted in these annual reports from 2015 to 2017. In every year, the company has published about their environmental regulations. It states that the company has complied with the law of Commonwealth of Australia. In all the three years, Woolworths have mentioned about some CSR issues like generation of sustainable performance in food, the evaluation of drink business, the empowerment of portfolio business and others (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). Thus, based on the above discussion, it can be seen that Woolworths has not put any major emphasis on social and environmental performance.    

It can be observed that is significant difference in Woolworth’s CSR reporting in the annual report of 2017 and in their official website. In case of the website, Woolworths has followed a particular content and theme while all these aspects are missing in the annual report of 2017. In the website, all the performance related details of Woolworths can be found under the head of ‘CORPORATE RESPONSIBILITY’ (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). After that, it can be noticed that the content of CSR activities includes six aspects; they are People, Planet, Customer and Community, Partners, Reports and Latest News related to CSR activities. In case of the annual report of 2017, Woolworths has not provided any components of CSR issues. Apart from content, Woolworths has presented all of their key CSR activities under a specific theme. Under each content of CSR activities, there are several sub-contents (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). For example, under the content of people, one can find the entire specific activates of Woolworths that the company has undertaken In case of people, they are implementation of safe place for work and shop; introduction of inclusive place for work; the promotion of gender equality and others. Under the content planet, some of the major activities of Woolworths are animal welfare, sustainable fish and seafood, genitivally modified foods, the initiatives of the company towards climate change issue, introduction of sustainable forestry products and others (woolworthsgroup.com.au 2018). Thus, from the above discussion, it can be seen that the CSR reporting of Woolworths in their website is more effective as compared to the reporting in annual report of 2017.            

Conclusion

According to the above discussion, legitimacy theory indicates towards the responsibility of the companies to fulfill the social and environmental expectations for their long-term survival. The new standard in 2017 state that all the ASX listed companies have the voluntary obligation of disclosing their CSR performance. In case of Woolworths, it can be observed that the company has published little information about their different CSR activities. However, the official website of Woolworths contains all the required information about their various CSR activities.

 

References

Fernando, S. and Lawrence, S., 2014. A theoretical framework for CSR practices: integrating legitimacy theory, stakeholder theory and institutional theory. Journal of Theoretical Accounting Research, 10(1), pp.149-178.

Lanis, R. and Richardson, G., 2012. Corporate social responsibility and tax aggressiveness: a test of legitimacy theory. Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal, 26(1), pp.75-100.

Tai, F.M. and Chuang, S.H., 2014. Corporate social responsibility. Ibusiness, 6(03), p.117.

The Conversation. (2014). New ASX guidelines to force sustainability reporting. [online] Available at: https://theconversation.com/new-asx-guidelines-to-force-sustainability-reporting-24885 [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Annual Report 2015. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/183565_Annual_Report_2015.pdf [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Annual Report 2016. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/185865_annual-report-2016.pdf [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Annual Report 2017. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/icms_docs/188795_annual-report-2017.pdf [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Corporate Responsibility - Woolworths Group. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/community-and-responsibility/group-responsibility/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Our People - Woolworths Group. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/community-and-responsibility/group-responsibility/our-people/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

Woolworthsgroup.com.au. (2018). Our Planet - Woolworths Group. [online] Available at: https://www.woolworthsgroup.com.au/page/community-and-responsibility/group-responsibility/responsibile-sourcing/ [Accessed 25 Mar. 2018].

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