Integrated Reporting Requires Integrated Thinking
Recently I was asked to read and critique a multinational company's Corporate Responsibility Report. It was over a hundred pages long, very expensively designed and printed -- and a complete waste of time.
For all of you thinking of preparing a sustainability report, it may be helpful to keep in mind -- you can't write a good sustainability report unless you understand what sustainability means; and you can't understand what sustainability means until you integrate it into the core of your business.
The senior management of this company made it very clear in their statements in the report that sustainability and corporate responsibility were not core to their business. And it showed. Sustainability had been pushed to the margins and the report was an expensive, highly polished PR exercise.
The same day that I was reading this report something truly important happened. The formation of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC) was officially announced and reported in the press:
The IIRC has been created to respond to the need for a globally accepted reporting framework structured around an organisation's strategic objectives, its governance and business model, and material financial and non-financial information. The IIRC brings together a cross section of representatives from civil society and the corporate, accounting, securities, regulatory, NGO, IGO and standard-setting communities.
I'm proud to say AccountAbility's Senior Fellow, Alan Knight is a member of the IIRC Working Group. In fact, Alan has been actively involved in the development of the IIRC concept since the beginning. He convened the initial exploratory meeting in 2009 and participated in the meetings later that year at Clarence House and St. James Palace that resulted in the establishment of the IIRC.
AccountAbility has long been a global leader in promoting the concept of integrated reporting and assurance and is currently preparing a research paper on the 'Landscape of Sustainability and Reporting Principles' that will support the drafting of the Integrated Reporting Framework.
The establishment of the IIRC brings the day closer when all companies will account for financial and non-financial perfromance in an integrated, clear, comprehensive, and comparable format.
The intent to report in an integrated manner makes it more obvious than ever -- that sustainability needs to be embedded into the business DNA of the company.