“More uniform reporting becoming a neccessity,” says GRI ceoJanuary 2015
Early in 2015 the International Integrated Reporting Council plans to unveil a ‘landscape’ or overview of the current prevailing international reporting standards. It will be the first formal outgrowth of the Corporate Reporting Dialogue (CRD), a think tank the IIRC launched last June in response to calls for more alignment.
Paul Druckman, ceo of the IIRC said the ‘landscape’ is being based around the six capitals of integrated corporate reporting, and how “the different frameworks of international reporting standards impact those capitals.” The capitals are: financial, manufactured, intellectual, human, social and relationship and natural.
Ideally, the landscape will be a starting point to understand what measurements are currently being used and how, and facilitate informed discussions that lead to action.
Druckman who spoke recently at the Business for Social Responsibility conference in New York about the CRD’s purpose said, “We need to find ways to align or at least rationalize what is going on, so that when we are talking about something like `materiality’ we do actually mean the same thing.”
Further clarifying the role of CRD, he said, “CRD is not there to deliver things. We are there to actually make things happen.”
What the CRD’s member groups – including SASB, GRI and ISO - want to see happen is acceptance of uniform language across standards, definitions and measurements for reporting on sustainability and other corporate social responsibility programs.
Susan Mac Cormac, a partner at the law firm Morrison & Foerster and a board member of SASB, said SASB is interested in uniformity in both mandatory reporting to regulatory groups, as well as for voluntary reporting.
“That distinction is really important because in both there needs to be a shared language,” said Mac Cormac. “You can’t measure and report on what is your use of carbon one way for the United States and a totally different way for the rest of the world. It just doesn’t work.”
Many believe better reporting methods will help lay the groundwork for an era of `new capitalism’ where corporations take long term views on their various impacts, and not focus on short term financial cycles.
Michael Meehan, the ceo of the Global Reporting Initiative, suggested more uniform reporting is almost becoming a necessity. While GRI has been around for 17 years, the market is seeing “new and narrowly focused initiatives around specific standards such as ‘how to integrate sustainability in to financial information,’” said Meehan.
The issue is not of competition among standards, said Meehan. “This is more of an understanding of what is the right tool for the job. CRD is to start that dialogue around who fits with what. What is the right tool for the job and how do all these standards work together.”
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