Corporate responsibility reports: The role of assurance providers and stakeholder panels

Source: PWC, 14 February 2008

Using a stakeholder panel, in addition to an assurance provider, can give a more complete picture of a company’s Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) performance, according to a new survey by PwC.

The global survey of PwC clients found that stakeholder panels now play an important part in CSR reporting by enhancing credibility. While an assurance provider can comment on whether a company is ‘reporting things right’, the stakeholder panel can say whether the company is ‘reporting the right thing’. Companies also believe panels provide a useful link between strategy and business goals and the expectations of stakeholders. Independent auditors, as assurance providers, can support the opinions of the panel and provide expertise and training on standards.

"Stakeholder panels are a promising new dimension in enhancing the credibility of sustainability reports," says Klaas van den Berg, PwC sustainability leader in the Netherlands. But to ensure a combined effort is effective, assurance providers and stakeholder panels must avoid confusing readers by mixing up their competences, warns Mr van den Berg. "Both are of great value for the legitimacy of sustainability reports. A good definition of scope of work and a conscientious use of definitions are the first conditions to avoid misunderstandings."

Download the full report (pdf)