The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) is the world’s leading Sustainability reporting standard which aligns to the integrated reporting (IR) framework and the Task Force on Climate-related Financial Disclosures (TCFD)
Organisations use the GRI standard to structure their annual sustainability reports in a consistent sector agnostic manner to aid a better, clearer understanding.
The GRI have developed clear guidance, recommendations and requirements across hundreds of GRI disclosures so organisations know what to include and exclude in their reports, but also to understand what is most relevant. Arguably, the key value to organisations in adhering to the GRI standard is to increase share price, as institutional investor analysts often use the GRI standard to search for and score companies on their Sustainability performance.
If a company’s annual sustainability report follows the GRI standard, then it’s easier for investor analysts to find the right information, if not, then the information might be there, but might be difficult to uncover.
There are typically two approaches employed by organisations when adopting the GRI standard, “GRI Defined”, and “Organic”.
The GRI defined approach is when an organisation uses the GRI disclosure framework as the basis for the structure of its annual sustainability report. This usually takes the form of the GRI standards presented in a table structure, with each of the individual disclosures answered by the author of the report in consultation with their colleagues across the business. This is by far the easiest structure for investor analysts to search through, analyse and score a company’s sustainability performance, and the author can easily address the GRI requirements, guidance and recommendations disclosure by disclosure. However, it’s not the most exciting or interesting to read for non-analysts. The layout doesn’t lend itself to a natural reading style.
The “Organic” approach is when an Organisation structures its annual report in a more natural reading style and layout that makes sense for the business, with chapters and topics selected as the author(s) deems appropriate. By comparison to the GRI defined approach, this is a far more engaging presentation style, and gives the company greater flexibility to express its brand, its style and its values. However, investor analysts find it incredibly difficult to find the information they need to give the company the best score possible. Because of the natural layout and style it can also be difficult for the author to use the terminology that a GRI savvy investor analyst will be searching for, thus not getting the full recognition it deserves.
Workaround: To overcome this, many companies that still use the natural report structure approach state the GRI disclosures that are addressed on each page of the report in the footer of each page. In addition, these GRI disclosure references are listed as per the GRI standard in the appendix of the report. These measures help investor analysts to find the relevant page and GRI disclosure they are looking for, but the feedback from investors is that the disclosures are often incomplete or do not follow the requirements of the GRI standards properly.
The Accuvio Solution to GRI Reporting Pressure
Accuvio has a solution for both the textual data capture, calculation, aggregation and reporting as well as the textual data capture and reporting. The Accuvio Author module enables annual sustainability reports to be disseminated into each of the GRI disclosures, and delegated to the responsible department or colleague with an auditable review and approval workflow. For companies adopting the organic approach individual text phrases can be linked directly to specific GRI disclosures and comiles are the GRI index in the appendix.
The Accuvio GRI reporting solution ensures more complete GRI aligned reports, in a much shorter time frame, with complete traceability….. a welcome pressure valve for you and your colleagues.