Sustainability reporting—also known as corporate citizenship, CSR, ESG, or non-financial reporting—is widely considered a best practice of companies worldwide. The reporting process—and the resulting report—has become essential for strategic decision-making, enabling stronger long-term planning, stakeholder relations, and data-driven insights. With the growing popularity of disclosure, reports are becoming more sophisticated and useful for decision makers and leaders in the company, as well as for external audiences such as investors—who are using the information to make more accurate market evaluations.
To keep up with global trends and challenges, GRI continually refines its guidelines, employing a multi-stakeholder approach to ensure that the reporting tool aligns the current needs of companies with the needs of society to better support meaningful change through corporate action. This year, GRI is transitioning G4—its most comprehensive and up-to-date reporting framework—from guidelines to standards, and has proposed three Universal Standards, as well as 35 Topic-Specific Standards. The organization is in the process of receiving feedback from global stakeholders on its draft Standards, having released them in April.
This spring, the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) opened for comment a review of its Regulation S-K filing—inviting comment on both form and substance of disclosures for companies listed on U.S. stock exchanges. Among many other matters, the SEC consultation document sought comment on whether disclosure on sustainability and other matters related to social policy should be mandated.
The following is excerpted from Issue 16 of The Corporate Citizen. To learn more about how sustainability reporting can help inform and advance your efforts, joining us for our GRI and CDP courses. As a certified training partner for both GRI and CDP, we’ll help you understand and utilize two of the leading sustainability frameworks to drive both social and environmental progress—and business results.
In 2015, world leaders came together to sign the Paris Agreement on Climate, and the UN unveiled 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)—complete with 169 targets—that aim to eradicate poverty and hunger, foster safe and inclusive societies, and halt global warming by 2030. Here, a group of top business and sustainability leaders discuss business practices that will assure progress toward these gamechanging sustainability targets.
Today, investors use social and environmental performance KPIs as a proxy for assessing the quality of management and—increasingly—to measure risk. Now, the conversation is no longer about whether a company should report, but rather what they should consider when they do. How can companies gain the greatest possible value from their reporting efforts? Where should companies set performance goals? How and what should they measure? What frameworks should they use? How will report readers use the information?
This year marks the 30th anniversary of the founding of the Boston College Center for Corporate Citizenship. The world is a very different place than it was 30 years ago. When the Center was established in 1985 with just 35 people from 35 companies connecting to our mission to help companies know more, do more, and achieve more with their environmental, social, and governance investments, debate about the human contributions to climate change had just begun in earnest and institutionalized corporate philanthropy and employee volunteer programs were new practices.
A successful manager recognizes arriving at a decisive “yes” or ”no” regarding internal or external requests is not as easy as it was once. As the complexities of global commerce increase and stakeholders are given more power, getting a definitive answer can be a challenge.
The sustainability community gathered in Amsterdam last week for the GRI global conference and the rollout of the G4 version of the reporting framework. Notable sustainability thinkers from around the world convened. Among those represented, members of ISO, IIRC, CDP, OECD, and many other international NGOs and policy organizations came together to debate the future of sustainable business and to discuss the implications of the latest evolution of reporting. While the debates made clear that we have a lot more work to do to get international agreement on how to
In 2011, Newell Rubbermaid developed an environmental sustainability program designed to measure progress toward its goals to reduce water and energy usage, lower emissions and increase recycling across the company. The Environmental Sustainability Excellence (ESX) program, as it is now called, allows Newell Rubbermaid’s facilities to systematically assess the environmental impacts associated with production and upstream supply chain activities. Balaji Jayaseelan, Newell Rubbermaid’s Program Manager of Environmental Sustainability, recently shared some insights into the development of the ESX program and its impact on the company’s sustainability efforts.