Ethical Performance
inside intelligence for responsible business


GRI needs strategies not stories

April 2008

Companies using the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) guidelines are failing to explain how their sustainability strategies are likely to affect their business’ position in the marketplace.

The GRI requires all companies using its guidelines to ‘provide a high-level, strategic view of the organization’s relationship to sustainability’ in their reports, but few do so, according to GRI technical development director Sean Gilbert.

This sustainability statement is to ‘produce insight on strategic topics rather than simply summarize the contents of the report’, the GRI says in its guidance.

Speaking at a Chatham House event in London, for which confidentiality rules were waived, Gilbert said that in their reports companies needed to ‘focus on issues of long term importance and those fundamental to enabling them to operate, and to make the connection between the value that a company creates and its environmental, social and governance activities.’

The tendency to tell stories rather than analyse social and environmental performance was a particular problem for investors, he added. ‘It is hard to absorb 2000 different story books. You want to be able to move in and do more than story analysis.’

Investors, for their part, appeared to be ‘doing a lot of research into the investment opportunities, but not a lot into the overall sustainability performance of their portfolios’.

Global Reporting Initiative | Global | Nonfinancial reports


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