Almost 80 percent of the largest 100 companies in 41 countries worldwide issuing corporate responsibility (CR) reports now use the Global Reporting Initiatives Sustainability Reporting Guidelines, according to a new survey by KPMG.
The KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2013, released today, found that sustainability reporting is truly mainstream, with almost three quarters of the 4,100 companies surveyed producing CR reports, and 78 percent of these referring to the GRI Guidelines. The survey also found that 93 percent of the worlds largest 250 companies issue a CR report, of which 82 percent refer to the GRI Guidelines.
While much of this upward trend in reporting is voluntary, the introduction of reporting regulation by governments and stock exchanges has also played an important role in driving corporate transparency and accountability. Regulation has resulted in almost 100 percent reporting rates in countries such as Denmark, France and South Africa, says KPMG.
The survey concludes that, with CR reporting now standard practice among large companies worldwide, the focus of the debate is shifting from whether companies should report, to questions of quality and good practice in reporting, including how companies should tackle key issues such as materiality and stakeholder engagement.
In KPMGs analysis, the average quality score achieved by the worlds largest 250 companies for their CR reports is 59 out of a possible 100. Key areas for improvement included reporting on suppliers and value chain, followed closely by stakeholder engagement and governance.
GRI Chief Executive Ernst Ligteringen said: This timely and insightful KPMG survey underlines the fact that disclosing information on sustainability performance and impacts is now the expected norm for large companies around the world something simply unimaginable only a decade ago.
It also confirms that the GRI Guidelines are the global standard for sustainability reporting. But sustainability reporting must continually evolve. As KPMG rightly points out, quality of reporting is a key issue, as more companies recognize the importance of materiality and the need to embed economic, social and environmental sustainability into core business strategy.
G4, the latest generation of the GRI Guidelines, is designed to support companies on this strategic journey. By placing the concept of materiality at the heart of sustainability reporting, G4 invites companies to analyze the fundamental links between their sustainability impacts and their business strategy and operations. It includes enhanced, up-to-date disclosures on key issues identified in the KPMG report, such as governance and supply chain, as well as guidance on how to carry out a robust materiality assessment, and how to involve stakeholders.
Many industry sectors face unique sustainability issues that should be captured in sustainability reports. KPMG found that some sectors that face significant CR risks and opportunities such as oil and gas, metals, and construction – scored below the global average for the quality of their reporting. In early 2014 GRI will produce a series of updated GRI Sector Supplements for use with the G4 Guidelines, covering these sectors and several others.