CLP Holdings' annual report is its single most important document for communicating with its stakeholders and revealing the full extent of its activities to a wider audience, says CLP director and company secretary Peter Greenwood. 'Our annual report is a yearly milestone that not only summarises the financial year in a single read but also examines in detail the organisation's history and provides us with the opportunity to say a great deal about the future direction of the business,' he says. The report is an important tool used to support business initiatives and highlights community involvement. The bilingual report, written in Chinese and English, was judged the overall winner of the HKMA 2003 Best Annual Reports Awards. 'All Hong Kong-listed companies are legally required to produce an annual report but CLP sees no point in producing a document that barely climbs above the regulatory threshold,' Mr Greenwood says. 'That requires, in my view, some very special consideration by all CLP operational departments to be certain that the benchmark we are setting is a benchmark that we want to set.' The emphasis is on quality writing and visual imaginary, he says. Producing the report is a collaborative effort co-ordinated through CLP's company secretary and the finance departments, with additional primary data supplied by colleagues from the human resources, investor relations, public affairs and regional departments. About 50,000 copies of the report are produced, with 70 per cent of shareholders requesting the publication in Chinese. Mr Greenwood says producing a publication in two languages that pose difficulties translating from one to the other is a challenge that motivates the co-ordinating team. 'In the past, the Chinese text was translated from the English edition,' he says. But the quality of the Chinese text is extremely important and the Chinese version must read as an original document. The report also provides an opportunity to explain the company's commitment to the environment and the health of employees. To coincide with the publication of the annual report, CLP also publishes a supplementary report outlining the company's environmental and social activities. 'There is simply not enough room to include all the information we wish to extend to the relevant parties in the one report,' Mr Greenwood says. CLP has introduced a series of occupational safety and health initiatives designed to promote greater health awareness, and continues to expand its environmental activities. These initiatives and various industry awards such as the Hong Kong Eco-Business Award - Certificate of Merit for Green Office (Large Organisation) and the Marketing & Customer Services Business Group Award are documented in the supplementary report. Mr Greenwood says that in recent years CLP has followed the trend away from rigid and conservative formats and has designed a highly visual report with effective charts, graphs and creative images. 'In fact, high-quality impressive annual reports can actually signal an organisation's strengths,' he says. The cover of CLP's annual report, which shows an elderly woman smiling, engineers clinging to electricity pylons, illuminated buildings and people studying and playing sports, is a broad indication of the many ways the company touches people's lives. 'Our goal is to comprehensively and honestly convey the message that here is an organisation that is involved in this wide range of activities and is taking all reasonable steps to be a good corporate citizen,' Mr Greenwood says. He says the HKMA Annual Reports Awards is an excellent discipline for benchmarking against Hong Kong counterparts and receiving feedback from a highly distinguished judging panel. 'There is no better judgment of the quality of what a company produces than the judgment of others,' Mr Greenwood says.