Getting to grips with sustainability reporting
Non-financial reporting can help companies meet the United Nations sustainable development agenda as well as improve their own reputation and business prospects.
On 1 January 2016, the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development — adopted by world leaders in September 2015 at an historic UN Summit — officially came into force. Over the next 15 years countries will use these goals to mobilise efforts to end all forms of poverty, fight inequalities and tackle climate change.
Company transparency is an important factor in the development of global markets, and can help businesses increase their competiveness and appeal to investors.
There are a wide range of reporting standards and frameworks for companies to follow, including:
- UN Global Compact
- AA1000 Series
- ISO 26000
- Global Reporting Initiative Sustainability Reporting Standards (GRI Standards)
- International Integrated Reporting Framework
Of the world’s largest 250 corporations, 93% report on their sustainability performance and 82% use the GRI Standards to do so. Following the adoption of the SGDs and the Paris Agreement on climate change, companies have started to base their sustainability goals on these initiatives.
Benefits to companies
Annual non-financial public reporting is a way of demonstrating a company’s progress in meeting sustainable development and corporate social responsibility objectives. It can also help companies improve their business operations, increase information transparency, build trusting relationships with partners and society, and increase their brand value and reputation.
Companies can use these types of public reports as a marketing tool to show corporate governance and management standards, thereby increasing the attractiveness of their business to investors and customers.
The process of preparing such reports can also help break down departmental silos in companies. Management can get to know about problems that were previously hidden and involve internal stakeholders in solving them. Reports can also be used by employees as a source of publicly verified information.
Engaging your stakeholders
Despite the many benefits of such reporting, companies are sometimes reluctant to commit to it. They may lack the relevant experience or information-gathering systems or senior management may be reluctant to engage.
If you’re having such difficulties but want to publish a non-financial report, a good way to begin is to find out what data your company already gathers. You could organise a working group with representatives from various departments and decide on the material you need to create a report.
Take it step-by-step
Your first report does not need to comply with all the standards. Obtain the information you can and build on it in the following year’s report. Don’t forget to involve your key stakeholders as they can help you identify the sort of information you need. You could also engage a consultancy that specialises in sustainability reporting and/or a non-financial external auditor who can help you understand what information you should disclose.
For more information, contact:
Nexia Pacioli, Russia
T: +7 (495) 640 6452