Sustainability and corporate responsibility are buzz words in the news, especially sustainability reporting, but what are the actual business trends?

Marjolein Baghuis, the Director of Communications & Network Relations at the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), answered this during the 2degrees webinar “Trends in Sustainability Reporting.”  The main point of her presentation was that sustainability reporting has continued to rise.  Here are a few statistics:

  • 95% of the largest global companies report on sustainability. The remaining 5% are companies mainly from the U.S.
  • 70% of companies that have sustainability reports use GRI guidelines.
  • Reporting uptake around the world:

What are the trends in sustainability reporting (according to the KPMG International Corporate Responsibility Survey 2011)?

  • Reporting is raising the bar on data integrity.
  • Corporate responsibility has become the de facto law for companies and investors and enhances financial value.
  • Leading companies make the most of assurance.
  • Integrated reporting (the combination of financial and sustainability reporting) is a trend.
  • Companies not yet reporting on their corporate responsibility activities are under significant pressure to start not only to stay competitive, but also to gain a better understanding of how corporate responsibility activities affect and benefit their business and strengthen their core strategy.

What are the most common reasons that companies choose to report on sustainability?

Baghuis also discussed the latest GRI reporting guidelines (G4), which are in the exposure draft phase and will be released in May 2013. The objectives of G4 are:

  • To be user friendly for beginners and experienced reporters.
  • To improve the technical quality with clearer definitions.
  • To align with other reporting frameworks.
  • To offer guidance that leads to material reports.
  • To offer guidance on how to link sustainability reporting and integrated reporting.
  • To provide support to improve data searching (XBRL).

Baghuis encouraged webinar attendees to visit the GRI website and provide input on the GR4 exposure draft from now until September 25, 2012.

To view the “Trends in Sustainability Reporting” webinar, visit the 2degrees website.

Based upon our experience, we concur with 2degrees findings. With the opportunity to leverage sustainability as a management tool, companies can gain a better understanding of their current social, environmental, and economic impacts on the world and where they can improve their performance and find opportunities to innovate.  Given the number of U.S. companies who have not yet adopted sustainability reporting, the opportunity for continued growth in the U.S. is enormous.  Further, we strongly encourage reporters to utilize the Global Reporting Initiative as they begin their process.  As the first GRI-certified trainer in the U.S. and consultant to many first-time reporters, we have witnessed first-hand the many benefits our clients have derived.

By Brittany VanderBeek, Intern