Sustainability reporting: from exception to rule

European support for GRI Guidelines
PostedMarch 25, 2015, in  Step 2: simple self assessment
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On April 15 2014 the European Parliament decided that large European companies (>500 employees) as of then were required to report on non-financial performance. A true milestone, but how do you interpret that? On February 3 this year the answer was provided in the report Making Headway in Europe. Linking GRI’s G4 Guidelines and the European Directive on non-financial and diversity disclosure. Once again, a milestone.  

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Leading role

We argued this more often: sustainability reporting is the new reality. The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) plays an important leading role in this. The objective of this non-profit organization is a sustainable world economy. With the framework it developed itself, it provides organizations with practical tools for comprehensive reporting on non-financial activities. In 2013, the fourth generation (G4) was introduced. At that moment, more than 5,000 organizations in over 90 countries were using the Guidelines. In addition, there were 25 countries or regions who had made the Guidelines the subject of policy. So it’s not surprising that the European Union also took inspiration from it.    

‘Vital for managing change’

In Making Headway there are seven key elements:

  1. General Disclosures (mission/vision in relation to sustainability).
  2. Diversity (diversity policy).
  3. Environmental matters (environmental policy).
  4. Social matters (social policy).
  5. Employee matters (personnel policy).
  6. Human Rights matters (policy surrounding human rights).
  7. Anti-corruption and bribery matters (policy surrounding corruption and bribery).

Making Headway is not meant as a fast guide for adding a sustainability paragraph to the business model. The Guidelines touch the heart of the organization, both in terms of strategy and operational processes. The importance of that is also underlined: ‘The disclosure of non-financial information is vital for managing change towards a sustainable global economy by combining long-term profitability with social justice and environmental protection’ (Directive 2014/95/EU, European Parliament, October 22 2014).

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Society Results

It will not have escaped the notice of the critical reader: all stakeholders are given space. And that offers opportunities, also for the EFQM community. If you take the Guidelines seriously, then you will get a keen understanding into not only People and Customer Results, but also Society Results: the social value of an organization becomes clear. Sustainability reporting therefore gets – actively supported by the EU – an enormous stimulus. Curious about what this means exactly in EFQM terms? Next month we will go into this in detail. To be continued.     

The report ‘Making Headway’ can be downloaded for free. 

‘G4 offers comprehensive guidance for companies, allowing them to fulfil the transparency expectations formulated in the Directive’ – Bastian Buck, Director Reporting Standard GRI   

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PostedMarch 25, 2015, in Step 2: simple self assessment
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