Saturday, January 29, 2011

2011 Sustainability Reporting - a slow start ?

I just took a look at the GRI Reports List (which you can download here). For those of you who don't know, there are two authoritative sources for finding CSR and Sustainability Reports on the web, without having to search by individual company webpage: one is, the largest global hosting site for corporate responsibility reports with over 30,000 reports from over 7, 400 companies. Another is the GRI Reports list, which records all the reports which have referenced the GRI since 1999, though the lists for more recent years are more complete.  

In any event, as we are nearing the end of the first month of another reporting year, I was expecting to find a whole list of new reports published in 2011. However,only four reports are listed. (There may be more that have not yet been updated, such as our own report from Beyond Business :)). Here are the four reports listed:

This is a GRI B level, GRI checked report, and it is a first report for this company. It's a 28 page nicely designed report but the GRI index can be found online only, which makes it rather difficult to read the report if you are interested in checking out specific GRI related disclosures. The report covers the year 2009, though a materiality assessment was completed in early 2010. It's a little lightweight, but we all know the challenges for first-time reporting, so let's give Arizona some credit.

This is the first report I have seen which is written on the GRI Let's Report Template (and a reminder why the template is a great idea in theory but not in practice) and it is presented as one of those ebooks which move around the page and zoom in and out as you are trying to read it, like trying to catch a lizard. It's a self-declared application level C, which as you may know, requires reporting on most of the profile disclosures and 10 Performance Indicators. Of the 10 indicators that this 27-people SME which markets and sells sanitation products for mold and other irritable things selected to report on, disclosures for seven of them are "not reported externally" or "not relevant" or "not material". What did catch my eye though is reporting against indicator SO1 (community impacts), in which the report refers to the S.H.I.T project (no joke!) which is apparently described on the MCES website. My interest piqued, I looked at the website and found no mention of S.H.I.T.  I can't work out why this company selected to report if they are not serious about reporting.

Studiosus Reisen Muenchen
This appears as a GRI Checked A+ Level report on the GRI list, but the download link is broken, and the "Objekt ist nicht verfügbar". This travel agency does have a sustainabiity section on their website, but nothing that looks like a report. The website deals with socially responsible travel and ofers some interesting options that I can discern even with my rather rusty German. They also support EPCAT, a very important organization and participate in the UN Global Compact. But no report. Yet.

This is a self declared B level report from Tyco Electronics who call themselves the "world leader enabling connectivity", providing connectors, cables and relays which are found "almost everywhere and in everything" (I hope they didn't get cables and connectors into my Chunky Monkey). Tyco has 89,000 employees, and this is a first report. Here again, the GRI index must be downloaded from the Tyco website and not included in the body of the report. It's a nicely put-together report, but I am pretty sure it would not pass the GRI B level check without several modifications and additions. However, it's a reasonable first effort and Tyco should be encouraged to report more rigorously in the future.  

So, all in all, not a massively encouraging start to the reporting year. However, we can expect things to pick up, not least in the US, where the GRI will mark its official launch in the United States with the Focal Point USA meeting to be held at the New York Stock Exchange on Monday 31st January. The meeting will take place from 0900 - 1100 (ET) and include a panel discussion with some of the big names in sustainability. The event will be webcast globally and the live webcast can be viewed  here . I am sure it will be worth looking in on (for those like me, who will not be attending in person),  not least because the USA has been lagging in terms of Sustainability Reporting to date, and the new Focal Point provides promise, especially under the capable leadership of Mike Wallace, that US companies will hear the call and start making transparency a priority. I hope so!

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, Sustainabilty Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices  Contact me via  on Twitter or via my business website  (BeyondBusiness, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm)


Marjella Alma (GRI) said...

Elaine, I have an encouraging thought :). We are still registering reports that were published in 2010. End of February should give us the final number; from then onwards we'll start focusing on 2011. Experience shows, that reporting peak season starts around this time and January is usually a slow period.

elaine said...

Hello Marjella, nice to see you on this blog and thanks for commenting. Yes, I have absolutely no doubt that we will see a big boost in the coming months. I am expecting at least a 30% increase in reports this year versus 2010!

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