Amidst increasing worldwide calls for improved corporate accountability, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) released today a new set of public reporting guidelines to help companies and other organisations disclose performance beyond the financial bottom line. The 2002 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines provide the framework by which organisations can measure and report progress on their contributions to sustainable development.
In the wake of the Enron debacle, and in conjunction with the World Summit on Sustainable Development, the latest release of the Guidelines comes at a time when attention to issues of corporate governance and transparency are at an all-time high, said Dr Judy Henderson, Chair of the GRI Board of Directors.
The 2002 version of the Guidelines is the result of two years of testing and revision by hundreds of stakeholders from around the world. Representatives from business, social and environmental advocacy groups, accountancy associations, labour, government, the investment community, and others participated in working groups and pilot tests to identify indicators and related content to include in the Guidelines. This is the third version of the Guidelines.
The Guidelines are designed to complement financial reporting standards, said Dr Allen White, GRI Acting Chief Executive. We consider the Guidelines a work in progress and are determined to continually improve them through ongoing worldwide stakeholder engagement. This engagement is the key to GRIs vitality and leadership.
Improvements since the 2000 version include significant development of social and economic indicators, requested inclusion of a cross-referenced table so readers can track content and compare reports more readily, and expanded principles that underpin sustainability reporting.
The 2002 Guidelines also introduce the concept of reporting in accordance with the Guidelines, which requires higher levels of transparency, coverage, and structure than informal reporting, thereby lending a higher level of credibility to a report. Recognising that one size does not fit all, GRI presents a range of reporting options to enable companies to gradually enhance the quality of their reports.
GRI is a prime example of the Type 2 partnerships highlighted at the World Summit. Business, civil society, labour and government have collaboratively developed a generally applicable tool for serving reporters and report users information needs. GRI is accelerating establishment of a disclosure framework for reporting information now absent from conventional corporate financial reports, such as environmental impacts, labour practices, human rights and corruption policies, and economic relationships with suppliers.
GRIs goal is to elevate reporting on environmental and social performance to routine practice and to the highest standards of rigour and comparability. More than 140 pioneering companies worldwide have used the GRI Guidelines including BASF, British Telecom, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Canon, Co-operative Bank, Danone, Electrolux, Ford, GM, KLM, NEC, Nike, Novo Group, Nokia, SAB Miller, and Shell. GRI will open its new headquarters in Amsterdam in September.