How to build trust through transparent reports

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Anne-Sophie Blin
EMEA Upstream Sustainability Services

There is a paradox in the increasingly crowded world of corporate responsibility (CR) communications: although the size of CR Reports keep increasing to comply with stringent industry standards, some key information sometimes gets lost on the way. This is particularly the case with one principle set by the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) known as the “Balance” principle. This principle means that sustainability reports should reflect positive and negative aspects to enable a reasoned assessment of overall performance.

I think this principle is as important (if not more so) than the other core aspects of GRI. We know that standalone CR reports are mainly read by investors. So it is important that they do not come across as simple marketing brochures but rather as real accounts of companies’ or funds’ performance. At the end of the day, what matters is the journey and how you get there rather than your absolute results at a particular point in time. Investors appreciate honest and transparent reports, which get recompensed through awards such as those run by ACCA and Corporate Register 

So here are some tips to make the credibility of your report stand out:

  1. Explain good and bad performance trends for targets and indicators
  2. Disclose your scores from your Sustainability Indices such as Carbon Disclosure Project and respond publicly to your investors’ feedback
  3. Follow the GRI guidelines for your CEO’s statement
  4. Perform the tests set out by GRI through its Principles for Defining Report Quality and publicly disclose on how you comply with them
  5. Get your report reviewed of assured by a third party and disclose their assurance/advisor’s statement

Check out the full GRI Principles for Defining Report Quality .

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