Assurance Readiness Review, Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Sustainability Reporting

Can you trust the content of sustainability reports?

I have been away for a few weeks finishing the second edition of my book, Sustainability Reporting: Getting Started, to be published soon by Business Expert Press. The second edition is up-to-date with discussions about the GRI G4 guidelines, Integrated Reporting <IR> framework, and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board (SASB) guidelines. When the new edition is available, I will let you know.

In the past few weeks, I have read a lot of published GRI G4 sustainability reports. A whole lot! It was exciting to see so many organizations reporting. The people who wrote them ranged from novice to experienced reporters. Some were great reports with seemingly transparent details about their environmental and social impacts. Some were not as forthcoming.

For example, one of the GRI human rights indicators, (G4-HR12), requires reporting the “number of grievances about human rights impacts filed, addressed, and resolved through formal grievance mechanisms.” While a few of the companies disclosed that there were mechanisms to deal with human rights violations, they then reported that the number discovered was confidential. Why is the number confidential? Why did they bother to report this indicator at all? It does their stakeholders no good to say there were problems, but that they have chosen not to disclose them. Let’s hope their stakeholders demand answers to such questions.

I felt much better about the transparency of companies that did report how many grievances were filed and how many were resolved. But should I feel better just because they published the numbers? Are these numbers accurate and how would a reader know? As external stakeholders, how would we know if anything in the report is trustworthy? Getting companies to publish sustainability reports is progress, but the next push in sustainability reporting is assurance of report content by independent, third parties.

Stay tuned for my next blog posts when I talk more about assurance.

Sustainability Reporting

Welcome to my new blog about sustainability reporting!

Sustainability reporting is a powerful tool to help organizations prosper while doing good things for their stakeholders and for the world. It may not be as important as the invention of the wheel, but in my opinion it sometimes comes close.

There are new things happening in the sustainability reporting world all the time. Trends on reporting and reporting standards are published frequently along with environmental, social, and political events that affect reporting. I keep current on what is going on. If you follow my blog, I will keep you posted on what I think about it.

This week (July 9 & 10), I will be teaching at a GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) Certified Training with the ISOSGroup in Minneapolis at Best Buy’s corporate headquarters. After my return, I will be posting on a regular basis.

I look forward to discussions with you!

(PS We’re still working on some bugs in our installation.  Right now we’re having trouble with comments and the menu. Comments work on Firefox, Chrome, Opera, and Safari iOS but inexplicably do not work on Safari on the Mac. Also, The main menu works when accessed from Blog Home, but not from an individual post. Thanks for your patience!  We think we have these bugs, at least, squashed.)