Global perspectives

Leigh Roberts CA(SA)

IIRC Council Member

Chief Executive Officer, the Integrated Reporting Committee of South Africa

On the ground floor of the Johannesburg Stock exchange is a restaurant. It’s a busy place with people coming and going. It’s also the birth place of the Integrated Reporting Committee (IRC) and the integrated reporting movement in South Africa.

Ten years on, I look back with wonder. Wonder at what we’ve all achieved. Wonder - and pride - at the progress our committed preparers have made in their integrated reporting journey. I’m so delighted to see them strive for continuous improvement in telling their story better in their integrated reports. I thank them deeply.

And I’m proud of the International <IR> Framework. It’s stood the test of time because it was - and still is - the right thing at the right time. Just as people evolve in their thinking, so too does corporate reporting. The <IR> Framework is modern-day thinking. Looking at the financial is just one slice of the cake; the integrated report shows the whole of the cake. And I shall forever fondly remember the London days and nights spent on developing the <IR> Framework with the regular visits to the Technical Task Force’s favourite vegetarian curry restaurant nestled in a tiny street and in a tiny space with only six tables.

So well done to the IIRC and the team for leading the global integrated reporting movement and leading us to corporate reporting that transparently reflects how an organization uses and affects its resources and relationships (the six capitals). This is evolved thinking. Thanks to the IIRC it is the ‘normal’ for corporate reporting.

So what’s next? As global awareness and acceptance of the connectivity of things rises even further, I expect the integrated report to entrench its position as the ‘umbrella’, ‘roof’ or, as we like to call it in South Africa, the ‘head of the octopus’. Detailed information reports, such as detailed financial statements and detailed sustainability metrics, stem from the integrated report as the ‘arms’. The integrated report is not an egotistical being; it’s positioned as the head report because it’s the only report that connects the financial to the ‘pre-financial’ bringing in the external environment influencers, strategy, risk and opportunities, performance, governance and outlook. While the integrated report is the head report, it also holds a hidden gem: the integrated reporting process is a hugely useful governance and management tool as it connects the internal dots and embeds integrated thinking. And in our world of connectivity, integrated thinking is what it’s all about.