Mining group Anglo American discloses information about its employees’ health and wellbeing because it believes it is important for stakeholders to know what the organisation is doing.
But Frank Fox, head of occupational health at the organisation, concedes that investors are currently more interested in employee health in the context of safety than of wellbeing, particularly the Global Reporting Index (GRI), which is a global sustainability reporting framework run by the Global Reporting Initiative. “[GRI] asks for safety information,” he says. “It is starting to ask more for health, but it is more occupational health.”
Fox points out that greater disclosure is not necessarily positive if the metrics are wrong. “There is a certain amount of information that is requested around absenteeism, which is what many people think of as an index of health,” he says. “Personally, I don’t think so. I think it is more an index of dissatisfaction with the organisation. Absenteeism is a very nice measure, but it is not necessarily around sickness.”
Anglo American’s global operations run a range of health programmes, which have certain deliverables measured against internal standards. Results data is reported into a central group database, which is used as the basis for the organisation’s reporting.
All data is audited externally where possible. Fox adds: “So, if we say we vaccinated 100% of our workforce against flu last year, then we can actually prove that, and where we have our HIV/Aids programmes in southern Africa, if we say we have achieved certain things, the data that comes out of those programmes is audited.”
But by his own admission, Fox says his approach to deciding the type and level of information disclosed is a movable feast. “We try to report on what we do and the measures of our success and, to some extent, the measures of our failures because we believe in being transparent,” he says. “But because it is [the information] not being asked for, it is rather difficult to gauge what one should report and what is necessary.”
Fox says investor feedback and bodies such as UK charity Business in the Community help to inform his decision-making process, as do the respective reporting practices of the company’s industry peers.