CA SRI LANKA
Q: Why did the Institute of Chartered Accountants of Sri Lanka (CA Sri Lanka) rebrand the annual report awards?
A: CA Sri Lanka’s event is a pioneer in the sphere of annual report awards; it has a history of over 50 years of continuously uplifting the standard of financial reporting in the country.
Despite its popularity, it was time for CA Sri Lanka to take a strategic decision to rebrand the awards to keep abreast of the growing emphasis being placed on non-financial reporting under the four areas represented by TAGS – i.e. Transparency, Accountability, Governance and Sustainability.
While financial reporting is mandated by law and remains at the core of annual reporting, non-financial reporting is more voluntary in nature and fulfils the increasing demand from stakeholders and shareholders to know what corporates are doing in the areas of sustainability, risk management and future strategies.
CA Sri Lanka has appointed a committee to evaluate reporting frameworks such as GRI (Global Reporting Initiative), ESG (Environmental, Social and Governance) and integrated reporting, and eventually recommend a single non-financial reporting framework for Sri Lankan corporates.
Another reason for the rebranding was the onset of digitalisation and new ways in which organisations operate. TAGS acknowledge the importance of digitalisation and the array of resources used to establish a sustainable business model.
Q: And what are the critical elements of ensuring an effective recognition programme?
A: One of the most critical elements is to have one judging standard that is transparent and equal – and easy to understand. The programme must also add value to competitors as well as stakeholders, and it must be credible and robust.
The new non-financial reporting framework will provide stakeholders with better insights into a corporate entity’s performance across risk management, corporate governance, environmental and social compliance, and sustainability.
We believe this will be a welcome change and boost participation numbers at an opportune time when we’re all getting used to the ‘new normal.’
Q: In your assessment, how can award schemes impact companies in terms of increasing brand awareness and recognition?
A: Winning awards definitely raises the profile of award-winning organisations and helps them stand out in any industry.
Apart from the twin advantages of awards being both a marketing tool and a platform to attract investment, they also infuse perceptions of trust, dependability and ethical operations about the companies in the consumer’s mind.
The Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) award in particular will bring immense credibility to organisations as being responsible entities that are giving back to the environment and society.
Q: What is your take on the ability of smaller businesses to compete with larger organisations through such schemes?
A: In terms of financial accounting for smaller companies, the framework has a separate accounting standard compared to large-scale corporates. The new non-financial reporting framework on the other hand, will be common to both large and small companies so that they can compete on the same platform.
There is also a separate category for SMEs in the annual report awards competition. There’s nothing to prevent SMEs coming out on top of large conglomerates.
We believe that TAGS will motivate organisations large and small to compete, and win greater credibility, respect and trust from their peers and stakeholders.