Sustainability Matters

Following the release of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines in May 2013, many companies will be considering a transition to G4 reporting for the first time for their 2015 Sustainability Reports (as did a number of companies for their 2014 reports).

GRI has also recommended that organisations that are reporting for the first time should use these guidelines, irrespective of whether or not they meet the requirements of the ‘in accordance’ options in their first reporting cycle.

We have explored some of the key features of G4 in order to inform our readers and clients of a few key points which they may wish to be aware of when considering transition or first time sustainability reporting using G4.

One of GRI’s main goals in producing the G4 guidelines was to make it more user-friendly than previous versions. There has also been an increased emphasis on ‘materiality’, which helps organisations focus their processes and reports on topics that are substantial to their business and their key stakeholders. This has assisted in creating reports that are more relevant, credible, and user-friendly. GRI contends that this will, in turn, enable organisations to better inform markets and society on sustainability matters.

While the new guidelines should lead to a more relevant and targeted Sustainability Report due to the focus on material aspects only, they also require more substantial information and effort on management and reporting processes and disclosures.

Therefore, companies are best advised to prepare for transition by focusing on the materiality principle and exploring what’s required in materiality assessments by consulting with stakeholders, and considering the sustainability impacts of their operations both within the business and outside in the broader supply chain in order to establish material aspect boundaries.

Robust preparation and analysis will result in alignment of your Sustainability Report with the G4 criteria and reporting requirements to achieve a successful transition to G4 reporting. Designate can assist at various stages in the process and, of course, with turning your Sustainability Report into a high-quality communications document that stakeholders will engage with and read with interest.

Michael Roberts
Investor Communications Director