Global perspectives

Eric Hespenheide

IIRC Council

Chairman, GRI Board of Directors

Corporate reporting has changed significantly over the last ten years, reflecting growing demands for enhanced accountability and a growing understanding of value creation. We now live in a multi-faceted world where a variety of resources and relationships contribute to the full story of an organization’s impacts across its entire value chain. This is why it is essential that corporate reporting is seen through a broader lens that brings financial and sustainability information together with other considerations.

As one of its co-conveners, the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) has been involved with the IIRC since its inception. Like the IIRC, we believe that integrating sustainability disclosures along with financial disclosures provides key insights into both how an organization is managing its risks and opportunities as well as its impacts on people and the planet. Sustainability reporting provides a broader view of a company’s performance than financial disclosures alone. When integrated, they can reveal not only value creation – and destruction – by a company, but also the impact that the organization is having on sustainable development. This provides a critical vehicle for strengthened corporate accountability.

Transparency is the best currency for an organization to build trust with its stakeholders. As the global pioneer in sustainability reporting since 1997, GRI has a duty to further the development and integration of sustainability and other corporate reporting:

  • both integrated reporting and the GRI Standards can be used by the same reporting company to meet stakeholders’ needs
  • our Standards provide robust sustainability disclosures and we see them as a prerequisite to integrated reporting
  • the modular structure of the GRI Standards enhances their complementarity by reporting disclosures on the organization’s most significant sustainability impacts.
  • GRI and the IIRC share the belief that transparency and reporting positively contribute to achieving sustainable development. This is the underlying principle that brings the two organizations together and drives their respective initiatives.

    Our two organizations also strive for alignment and clarity in the reporting landscape to improve efficiency and effectiveness in reporting that can lead to results positively impacting sustainability. We know from more than two decades of working with thousands of companies that they want a reduction in the complexity and burden of reporting, and an end to the overlapping, redundant or repetitive disclosures. That is why GRI and the IIRC collaborate to reduce the fragmentation and lead on the harmonization in the reporting environment to minimize inefficiency and drive improvement, such as through the Corporate Reporting Dialogue and most recently in September, the Statement of Intent to Work Together Towards Comprehensive Corporate Reporting.

    We will continue to proactively communicate to the market the role, nature and alignment of each other’s framework, guidelines and standards to foster clarity in the corporate reporting environment. Through a continuing collaboration, GRI and the IIRC aim to express a shared vision for the evolution of corporate reporting, in which alignment leads to improved efficiency and effectiveness in reporting.

    GRI is committed to continue working together with the IIRC and all interested organizations in achieving greater transparency through disclosure. This is an exciting and fast-changing era for corporate reporting and we look forward to strengthening further our longstanding relationship in the decades to come.