A variety of international and local initiatives work to assist organizations with their sustainability reporting. Some of them operate in specific sectors, others focus on a single issue, and yet others have a more comprehensive scope.
Non-financial reporting means reporting the economic, environmental and social impacts caused by everyday operations of organizations. It is crucial that organizations talk about their values and governance, demonstrating how their strategy contributes to the creation of a sustainable global economy. Non-financial reporting can also help companies measure and understand their performance, set goals, and manage change more effectively. It is also the key platform for communicating real-world impact – whether positive or negative.
There are several sustainability frameworks and standards recognized internationally. The major providers of non-financial reporting guidelines include:
Global Reporting Initiative (GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards)
The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises)
UN Global Compact (Communication on Progress)
International Organization for Standardization (ISO 26000 Guidance on social responsibility)
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC International Framework)
In response to the increasing calls for transparency, national standards are being developed alongside international frameworks. An example of a national standard is the Polish SIN (Standard Informacji Niefinansowych; Eng. “Non-financial Information Standards”) developed as an initiative of the Polish Association of Listed Companies. However, experts claim that it is likely that local frameworks will be heavily based on the globally recognized sustainability and reporting standards.
The most widely used comprehensive sustainability reporting standard in the world are the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.
With thousands of reporters in over 90 countries, GRI provides the world’s most trusted and widely used standards on sustainability reporting, enabling organizations and their stakeholders to make better decisions based on non-financial information that matters.
Recently, G4 (the fourth generation of the Guidelines launched in May 2013) have been superseded by the GRI Sustainability Reporting Standards.
The GRI methods have been designed as a consolidated framework for reporting performance and include references to other widely recognized standards, such as the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises, the UN Global Compact Principles, and the UN Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights.
Regardless of which framework a company decides to use for its non-financial reporting, we should remember that communicating the relationship between sustainability and business can enhance the company’s value, help measure and manage change, and drive improvement and innovation.