Global perspectives

Marianne de Bie

<IR> Business Network participant

Sr. Advisor Corporate Affairs, Royal Schiphol Group

“The best thing we have ever done is to print the International <IR> Framework and to hang the octopus on the wall of our office” – has surely been our mantra for the first years that we climbed upon the integrated reporting wagon.

We took part in the International Integrated Reporting Council’s Pilot Programme: we studied, we cursed, we matched and mapped, we puzzled, had serious discussions, a first materiality analysis, we re-thought, re-mapped. And as we incorporated input-output-outcome-impact in our own reporting-thinking, we sold it in our own departments, convinced managers and the board. But not only management; we engaged colleagues rank and file. And those who delivered data, evidence and stories saw their input coming back in the report, saw that their work mattered and became our integrated reporting mates. Every year a bit deeper, more questioning and challenging. Our company gained more understanding of its activities, processes and impact.

Integrated reporting is trying to tell the complete and true story. Climbing that path to the top of the mountain in quest of added value, not only for yourself, but to society at large. In the beginning the <IR> Framework was our compass and then remained our checklist. As we started climbing more freely, at every base camp we still quickly checked in with our guide to see if we were still on the right track.

Integrated thinking and reporting is a road, is a journey. This may sound obvious, but it is true. And journeys change. At the beginning of this tenth anniversary year, nobody would have thought that everything that felt ‘normal’ would change so deeply. In just a couple of months. The only good it maybe has brought is that individuals, companies, sectors have started checking and rethinking their ‘purpose’. A word suddenly very fashionable, but when applied with integrity, it’s all about integrated thinking.

In our sector, aviation and travel, the impact of COVID-19 is unprecedented. It will change our business for years to come. Travel and flying are no longer about adventure, exchange of goods, knowledge and culture. Instead of enriching, it now feels risky and uncertain, and even unnecessary. Maybe it will never again be as it was in 2019. Though our focus will be facilitating safe and responsible travel, we must not forget our ‘Why’. Royal Schiphol Group strives to come out better, to improve. We will keep investing in safe and sustainable solutions, innovations, quality for our users – with a sharp eye on the essential things - to be able to face the future in a better way. ‘Building Back Better’ is our motto.

Keeping a straight path to the top will be difficult, as we see the economic consequences and many direct colleagues lose their job. We will need to adjust our operations, to reset, to look for financing to survive and to be able to emerge improved. We may have to make other choices than we would have a year ago. We are in a glass box being watched by the general public, the airlines and other partners, our accountants, our shareholders.

The octopus will remain taped on our office wall. There lies great value for the IIRC in helping - especially now that money is needed to make the world go around – the financing world and the investors to understand that it is not only about today or tomorrow but about beyond.

Thank you all, for ten years of inspiring work.