As the Sustainability movement takes hold around the world, more and more companies are incorporating the practice of Sustainability into their business thinking and processes. According to a survey conducted by Accenture and the UN Global Compact, “strengthening brand trust and reputation is the strongest motivator for taking action on sustainability issues.” Companies are seeing evidence that a robust Sustainability initiative can lead to: increased revenues; lower costs, less risk, improved reputation, product and service innovation, and stronger corporate governance. In short, Sustainability can be a means to achieve competitive advantage.
As Sustainability becomes increasingly embedded into organizations, there has been a corresponding rise in the number of companies issuing reports on their sustainability activities. Leading companies from both the public and private sectors are not only issuing reports, but having them audited by an independent third party.
GRI has identified six key qualities for the external assurance of reports.
Should be conducted by groups or individuals external to the reporting organization, who are demonstrably competent in the subject matter and assurance practices
Should utilize groups or individuals who are not unduly limited by their relationship with the organization or its stakeholders to reach and publish an independent and impartial conclusion on the report
Is implemented in a manner that is systematic, documented, evidence-based, and characterized by defined procedures
Assesses whether the report provides a reasonable and balanced presentation of performance, taking into consideration the veracity of report data and the overall selection of content
Assesses the extent to which the report preparer has applied the GRI Reporting Framework (including the Reporting Principles
Results in an opinion or set of conclusions that is publicly available in written form, and a statement from the assurance provider on their relationship to the report preparer
A comprehensive gap analysis of your previous Annual or Integrated Annual Report; including specific recommendations for enhanced reporting.
An evaluation of your “most material issues” based on a confidential desktop review of your Board and Committee materials, and relevant media articles.
An evaluation of your adherence to AccountAbility’s principles of Inclusivity, Materiality, and Responsiveness.
A detailed evaluation of your current Sustainability/Integrated Annual Report copy, including specific areas where improvement is required to fulfill your chosen GRI Application Level.
An assurance statement for inclusion within your Sustainability/Integrated Annual Report.
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IRAS (Integrated Reporting and Assurance Services) is a global sustainability consultancy that provides a broad range of assurance, advisory and training services. The firm’s highly-regarded annual research report on GRI reporting in South Africa is a best practice example of thought leadership in sustainability reporting.
Leapfroghub is a one-stop consortium for Sustainability guidance, tools, templates and hands-on help. Leapfrog's team of experts have decades of experience in eco-audits, funding, planning, implementation, KPI verification, and marketing/communications.
Burns & Hammond is an integrated CSR and sustainability consultancy focusing on strategy, systems and reporting utilizing the GRI framework. The firm has served clients for over 25 years in a wide range of industries, sectors, and communities.
Sustainability Reporting Resources
CorporateRegister.com is home to the world's largest online directory of CR (corporate responsibility) Reports. Its online community of 36,000 registered users represents a global audience of highly informed stakeholders and CR report readers: corporate CR professionals, CR consultants, CR organizations, government authorities, investors, analysts, NGOs, charities, journalists, academics and students.
The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world, to enable greater organizational transparency. The Framework, including the Reporting Guidelines, sets out the Principles and Indicators organizations can use to report their economic, environmental, and social performance. GRI is committed to continuously improving and increasing the use of the Guidelines, which are freely available to the public.
The International Standard ISO 26000:2010, Guidance on social responsibility, provides harmonized, globally relevant guidance for private and public sector organizations of all types based on international consensus among expert representatives of the main stakeholder groups, and so encourage the implementation of best practice in social responsibility worldwide.
AccountAbility's AA1000 series are principles-based standards to help organisations become more accountable, responsible and sustainable. They address issues affecting governance, business models and organizational strategy, as well as providing operational guidance on sustainability assurance and stakeholder engagement.
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