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Sustainability Reports: A Step In The Right Direction

The sustainability report is probably one of the newer documents pioneered in recent years that public-listed companies have to produce. It also follows a shift in companies trying to establish good ESG (Environmental, Social, and Governance) practices. Singapore-listed companies are still slow in taking up this mantle, but there are companies that have begun to issue sustainability reports. As time goes by, I expect more to follow suit.

In this article, I will be using Raffles Medical Group Ltd‘s (SGX: BSL) inaugural sustainability report – released on 15 November 2018 – to illustrate the typical features of such reports and what investors can look forward to from other companies in time to come. As an introduction, Raffles Medical Group is a leading integrated private healthcare provider in the region, offering clinics, hospitals and modern medical facilities in 12 cities across Asia, including Singapore and China.

The first feature

Raffles Medical Group’s first ever sustainability report starts off by identifying stakeholders in the business, of both the direct (e.g. staff) and indirect (e.g. corporate clients and tenants) category. External and internal stakeholders are also identified and the report provides clear and detailed explanations on: What each group of stakeholders expect from the company; how the company is responding; the company’s progress in 2017 in meeting its stakeholders’ expectations; and the company’s targets for 2018.

The pages in the first section provide a good account of how Raffles Medical Group is managing the expectations of each stakeholder group and how it continues to actively improve each aspect of this relationship, with a goal to further enhance it over time.

The second feature

The next section is the Value Creation Scorecard and it’s interesting to note here that Raffles Medical Group provides three segments: Environmental, Social, and Financial. Each segment features three-year metrics and the segments together show how the company fared in areas such as electricity used, paper recycled, customer satisfaction, and staff turnover rate, just to name a few.

By measuring the aforementioned operational metrics, Raffles Medical Group is signaling that it treats such metrics seriously, and the fact that the company displays three-year metrics also shows a concerted effort to continue to improve on them.

The third feature

The next part of the Sustainability Report is then arranged into “Materiality topics” and covers economic, environment, clinical, Raffles staff and social topics. The clinical topic is more industry-focused as it relates to the clinical aspect which is unique to Raffles Medical Group’s business. The other topics provide more descriptive details on measures undertaken to improve each aspect, and adds a deeper layer to the metrics stated in the Value Creation Scorecard section.

The last feature

Finally, the company’s Sustainability Report states that it has been prepared in conformance with Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) standards. The GRI Disclosure Index is found in the back of the report and references pages within the Sustainability Report and also Raffles Medical Group’s 2017 annual report.

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The Motley Fool Singapore contributor Royston Yang contributed to this article. Royston owns shares in Raffles Medical Group.

The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalized investment or financial advice. The Motley Fool Singapore has recommended shares in Raffles Medical Group. The Motley Fool Singapore writer Chong Ser Jing owns shares in Raffles Medical Group.