Does Sustainability Reporting defend its throne against Integrated Reporting?

There is a widespread speculation over the necessity of promoting Integrated Reporting. More specifically, it is questionable what Integrated Reporting really stands for. What is admitted is that integrated reporting has yet to become a major trend for organizations that communicate their financial and non-financial performance.  Main concerns are raised over the “usefulness” of these integrated reports to the majority of stakeholders of companies. Customers, clients, consumers, users, suppliers need to be further motivated by the structure and content of an integrated report.

On the other hand, financial stakeholders seem to be more positive to that information presented and find it more respective, since the global trends are for these interested groups not only presented in the financial performance of companies, but also in their ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) performance.

CSE, in the global certified Sustainability Practitioner Program this March, in London covers the importance of Sustainability Reporting while it showcases some of the best practices on reporting communication.

With regards to integrated reporting, it is directed towards specific audience/stakeholder groups, mainly the financial one and that is reinforced by the fact that the European Banking Federation is calling on financial sector authorities in the European Union to create an integrated and standardized framework for data reporting.

Additionally, according to a Eurosif survey it was found that 83 out of 90 European investors, who were asked, mentioned that they support the EU Directive for non-financial reporting and believe it should lead to integration with financial information.

Companies that are legally committed to report their non-financial information are considering integrated reporting in order to comply and communicate their performance to their financial stakeholder (investors, shareholders etc.).

Research shows that there is a tendency to combine the financial and non-financial (CSR) reports, but not describing them as integrated reports (or following the corresponding guidelines). They lean towards combining their financial reports with ESG performance indicators, or to just combine the two separate reports.

By any means, integrated reports still remain the least preferable form of report for organizations, while Annual Reports, CSR reports and Annual Reviews are mostly preferred.

According to CSE’s research for Europe and North America, no significant trends have been disclosed when it comes to integrated reporting. Out of a sample of 475 and 642 companies/reports respectively, the percentage of integrated reports was in the single digits.

Don’t forget to claim your seat at the Advanced Certified  Sustainability Practitioner program in London. It will feature a presentation of the Surprising Research Findings 2018 on Sustainability Goals Integration and Sustainability (CR) Impact. The research focuses on reporting practices of more than 460 corporations from leading business sectors and outlines key considerations related to common strategic objectives, social impact goals, UN SDG’s, reporting and external assurance practices as well as legislation.

For more information, contact csrperformance@cse-net.org.

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