Saturday, June 7, 2014

Test your knowledge: 20 questions on G4

Here is a chance to test your knowledge of the G4 Global Reporting Initiative Guidelines. There are no right answers. Whatever you think is right, is right.  That's because this quiz was designed in the spirit of G4. But,  please note, you might want to involve your stakeholders as you consider your answers. 

Q1: Why was G4 launched?
A:  To keep the sustainability reporting debate alive
B:  To make sustainability reports shorter.
C:  To encourage companies to be more transparent.
D:  To give sustainability reporting consultants lots of headaches.

Q2: Who wrote G4?
A:  Optimists.
B:  Psychics.
C:  Experts in sustainability reporting.
D:  Experts in anything but sustainability reporting.

Q2: What's the right length for a G4 report?
A:  Extreeeeeeeeeeeemely short.
B:  No more than 100 pages - where 97 pages are full-page graphics.
C:  As long as your stakeholders can stay awake.
D:  Longer than your main competitor's report.

Q3: Should a G4 report contain failures as well as achievements? 
A:  Only if you want to win an award
B:  What? You had failures?
C:  Only if you are publishing your report at the time of a  global natural disaster. Then, no-one will notice
D:  The more the better. Then you won't be around to publish a report again next year. That'll be a relief.

Q4: Do you understand the G4 Implementation Manual?  
A:  Of course. Except everything from page 5 onwards.
B:   I don't' need to. I have a copy of Elaine Cohen's fabulous book: Understanding G4: The concise guide to next generation sustainability reporting
C:  Is this a trick question?
D:   I don't think G4 was actually meant to be understood.

Q5: What's the best thing about G4?  
A:  It's too soon to tell.
B:  Not doing it.
C:  It's now available in Chinese and Indonesian.
D:  It rhymes with ignore.

Q6: What's the right number of material issues you should report?   
A:  More than most
B:  What SASB says
C:  There is no right number. There is only a relevant number.
D:  Enough to create the impression of having completed a materiality analysis.

Q7: Can you write a G4 report with just one material issue?   
A:  Yes, but everyone will be jealous.
B:  Yes, as long as it's a very big issue, such as : contributing to global sustainability.
C:  Yes, then the Materiality Matters check at the GRI will be really quick and won't delay your report publication.
D:   Yes. Consult with one stakeholder and ask about one issue.

Q8: G4 eliminated the A,B,C classifications and moved to Core and Comprehensive. What's the difference? 
A:  There's no difference. If you write a comprehensive report you are more wonderful than if you write a core report. Just like A, B, C.
B:   With A,B, C, many reporters got an F. With core and comprehensive, everyone wins.
C:   You have to change the title on your Press Release.
D:   SMEs can now report at core level without reporting at C level.

Q9: Why does G4 list only 46 material Aspects?  
A:  GRI didn't want to make the manual too long. 266 pages is enough.
B:  There is nothing else really really really important .
C:  It was a design choice.
D:  Sustainability Managers can only count up to 46.

Q10: How should you respond to General Standard Disclosure G4-11: Describe your supply chain.
A:  Keep it short. Our supply chain is short.
B:  Add a little detail. Our supply chain is short and we have many suppliers.
C:  Add substantial detail: Our supply chain is short and we have many suppliers. We also have a few warehouses of different sizes strategically located at major urban intersections to guarantee immediate availability of our products to local customers.
D:  Don't. Say it is an omission and you will report in 2018. That will give you time to actually think about what your supply chain does.

Q11: How can you demonstrate the principle of stakeholder inclusiveness?
A:  Hold a stakeholder party (with ice-cream).
B:  Conduct an online survey and send it to everyone including your mother and her mother.
C:  Just keep repeating it in your report.
D:  Identify your stakeholders and include them. It's that simple, isn't it?

Q12: How many times does the G4 implementation manual contain the word "material" or "materiality"?  
A:  I lost count after 3,473.
B:  More than it contains the words ice cream.
C:  Why count? It's hard enough defining it let alone counting it.
D:  Enough to dilute its meaning so that it refers to everything that's not material as well.

Q13: Is it OK to publish the G4 content index separately from the actual report? 
A:  Yes, as long as you do so within the same decade.
B:   Yes, provided you are referring to your report and not another company's report.
C:   Sure, then you can conveniently forget to upload it to your website.
D:  Yes. Then it is easier to recycle every year.

Q11: Must a G4 report be externally verified?  
A:  Only if you have a VERY BIG budget.
B:  Only if you are on a suicide mission.
C:  No, but you risk people not finding mistakes that the verifiers wouldn't have found anyway.
D:  No, what's written in black and white must be true.

Q14: What if your Aspect Boundaries change while you are preparing the report?  
A:  This depends. If the Aspects and the Boundaries change, Houston, we have a problem.
B:   If the Boundaries change but not the Aspects, then you can readjust and no one will notice.
C:   If the Aspects change but not the Boundaries, then you probably didn't define the Boundaries well in the first place.
D:   Can someone actually explain to me what Aspect Boundaries really are?

Q15: What if the CSR Manager resigns while you are preparing your G4 report? 
A:  Get another one.
B:  Get a lawyer.
C:  Use last year's report and change the dates.
D:  Make it an In Accordance report with a lot of omissions.

Q16: How much ice cream do you need to consume while preparing a G4 report?  
A:   A lot.
B:   A very lot.
C:   More than that.
D:   You don't want to know.

Q17: Which G4- expert consulting firm was the first in the world to help clients deliver three G4 reports before the end of 2013?  
A:  Beyond Business Ltd
B:  Beyond Business Ltd  
C:  Beyond Business Ltd
D:  Beyond Business Ltd
E:  Beyond Business Ltd
F:  Beyond Business Ltd
G:  Beyond Business Ltd
H:  Beyond Business Ltd

Q18: How does preparing a G4 report change your personality?  
A:  It brings on fatigue and disorientation disorder, commonly known as G4 disease.
B:   It makes you anxious, irritable, impatient and critical, until it's published. Then you sleep.
C:   It makes you a better person. Yes, it does. It does. Seriously.
D:   It's doesn't change your personality, so if people are calling you weirdo, crazy person and zombie they are probably mistaken.

Q19: Does publishing a G4 report mean you are a great company? 
A:  Of course. Being transparent about your bad results makes you really great.
B:   Of course. Doesn't G stand for Great?
C:   Of course. If we weren't before we will be after.
D:   Of course:  Greatness comes from the knowledge that you transparently disclosed your most material issues and called them Aspects.

Q20: What will happen when every company in the world  produces a G4 sustainability report?
A:  G5
B:  The world will suddenly become a brighter place.
C:  Climate change will stop.
D:  Poverty will be eliminated.
E:  All of the above.
F:  Not.

How did you do? By now, you all know that I love G4 and I think it has definitely moved sustainability reporting in the right direction. But, like everything, if we take it toooo seriously, we are likely to miss out on some of the fun. Hope you enjoyed this little test. 

elaine cohen, CSR consultant, winning (CRRA'12) Sustainability Reporter, HR Professional, Ice Cream Addict. Author of Understanding G4: the Concise guide to Next Generation Sustainability Reporting  AND  Sustainability Reporting for SMEs: Competitive Advantage Through Transparency AND CSR for HR: A necessary partnership for advancing responsible business practices . Contact me via   or via my business website   (Beyond Business Ltd, an inspired CSR consulting and Sustainability Reporting firm
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