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Eco-friendly annual report.

Undoubtedly, annual reports generally form the apex of corporate communication in listed companies. It does not just reflect the tip of the iceberg but the company in its purest form, nothing more nothing less.

Annual reports of listed companies primarily serve as a tool for shareholders to learn about the performance and compliance of the company, so that they could take an informed decision on the continuity of their investment. It essentially provides a recap of how the company performed in the yesteryear and provides a glimpse of the future.

How well do our current annual reports provide the average investor a simple and concise summary of the company's performance (ideally comparing it to the industry and competition), in a language that they can comprehend? Consequently, understanding an annual report can be a daunting thought if you are not familiar with it and cannot find particulars of what exactly you need.

Instead, we see greater focus on producing 'fancy' reports (mostly in English) and in pursuit of awards. In the process, we cut down quite a few trees to produce the report, but yet claim to be champions of the environment and sustainability! Most annual reports produced at great cost are never read. The world's worst waste has paper and paperboard at the top in its list. With the improving technology, companies could perhaps have e-copies of their annual reports which can be emailed to shareholders and available for anyone interested. If, however, they require a paper copy, the shareholder may request so for one. These concepts are not new, but if all companies adopt this approach, imagine the number of trees we could save!

Apart from ecological issues, it does not make sense printing the published annual reports for the reason that the print cannot include all the possibilities technology does, for instance the multiple languages it can now be accessed with. Moreover, an e-copy can be more easily stored by shareholders together with quick search options.

It's time to honestly ask the question "What is the ROI and environmental impact of your annual report?"

Mr Cader is the chief

executive of MTI Consulting

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Date:Dec 7, 2014
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