Evaluating Your Reports

GRI Logo, 2015

If you are already preparing a sustainability report, is it compliant with the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) Standards? There are many “moving parts” to a GRI report – the world’s most recognized reporting standard – and they can often be improved by having a knowledgable expert review them prior to public release.  After reviewing your report, we can determine what is compliant and what you need to do to meet the standards.

Having prepared GRI reports ourselves, having taught multiple GRI Certified Training Courses, and having prepared GRI report case studies, we can do this for you.

We will evaluate your completed report against the GRI Principles of Reporting and will report to you regarding how well have you addressed them. Here are some of the issues that we will examine:

MaterialityDid you address what is “material” to your organization and how did you do so? Materiality is defined by the GRI Standards as your significant economic, environmental, and social impacts. It also involves those issues that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.

StakeholdersDid you engage with your stakeholders in preparing your report? How did you engage with them? You need to do this in order to identify your stakeholders’ reasonable expectations of you, what interests they have in your organization, and what significant economic, environmental, and social impacts you have on them. There are numerous systematic methods and generally accepted principles that can be used to engage stakeholders. Documenting and reporting what you do is essential to being transparent.

ContextDid you consider how your organization fits into the local, national and global sustainability context? What do your organization’s current and future impacts mean for not only the region where it operates but also for the demands it places on national and global resources?

CompletenessDid you include everything needed to have a complete picture of you organization’s impacts? Is the information in your report sufficient to convey your most significant impacts and to give stakeholders sufficient information to assess your organization? Did you include all necessary entities and business relationships to provide a complete picture?

AccuracyIs the information accurate? Information can be qualitative or quantitative but in both cases accuracy is important. Qualitative information must be clear and sufficiently detailed. Accurate quantitative information should be described so that calculations, estimates, and assumptions can be fully understood.

BalanceDid you include both positive and negative impacts? No organization is perfect. Both favorable and unfavorable results need to be reported in order to have a credible report. Further, unfavorable results can be seen as opportunities for improvement, especially if stakeholders are involved in addressing them.

ClarityIs your report clear and easy to read? Does your report provide sufficient detail to inform stakeholders? Is it free of jargon and confusing acronyms? Is it easy for readers to navigate the report with links and tables of content?

ComparabilityAre your data consistently presented so that comparisons over several periods can be made? Are the reporting layouts, methods, and calculation consistent from one report period to the next?

ReliabilityWould you be able to consistently recalculate your data? Can your data collection and processes be subjected to third party examination? Can the data be traced to sources and can calculations be reliably reconstructed?

TimelinessIs the information timely? Will your reports be prepared on a regular and timely basis to help stakeholders to make assessments about your organization?

We will carefully review your report using these principles and compare it to reports from similar organizations. After doing so, we will note those areas where your report meets the standards, highlight any areas where your report is deficient, and make recommendations for improving your report. In addition, we will check to determine if your report has the required number of disclosures needed to be compliant with the GRI core or comprehensive levels. This assessment also involves the adequacy of the disclosure content as prescribed by the GRI Standards.

A sustainability report is an important and public means for your organization to document its commitment to sustainability. It should be the best report possible.