Neville Hobson alerts me to Nike's first CR report since the Kasky case brought public reporting from Nike to a rather abrupt halt. There's bound to be tonnes to think about in there but for starters some interesting words from Phil Knight (outgoing CEO and Mr Nike). Not least the candid honesty about making a mistake.
The second chapter began with critics bringing working conditions in underdeveloped countries to the attention of the world. After a bumpy original response, an error for which yours truly was responsible, we focused on making working conditions better and showing that to the world.
Our goal in writing this report has been to be as accurate, complete and honest as we can be about how Nike performs. Just producing this report proved to us that the value of reporting goes far beyond transparency. It becomes a tool for improving both our management of business and in giving us clues about what we need to do next.
(My emphasis). It is a time of year when I get bombarded by CR reports - BP's blockbuster also came out this week among others - and it is easy to lose sense of why reporting is important, but Knight nails it: it's about performance. Transparency is essential but useless without corresponding change.
More than that, as Knight says, it is about 'giving us clues about what we need to do next'. Reporting is historically about the past. It's about to become more and more about the future. And though identifying future risks will be driving CR into looking forward, the companies that do it (to coin a phrase) will be those who seek business opportunities, or 'what we need to do next'.
There are few reports I read cover to cover yet when Knight writes: 'but I urge you to read it from cover to cover. And then some: because probably the most significant piece of disclosure linked to this report is actually on our Web site.' I probably will.