Reporting spreads confusion

7th June 2016


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  • Reporting ,
  • Business & Industry ,
  • Management

Author

Joseph Bellas

Fragmentation is undermining the potential of sustainability reporting to help organisations meet evolving challenges, according to analysis by accounting experts.

A study, by the Association of Chartered Certified Accountants and the Climate Disclosure Standards Board (CDSB), examines the changing reporting environment over the past ten years.

It notes that new subject matter, such as social impact, supplier relationships and environmental management, have been introduced in response to demands from stakeholders wanting to assess an organisation’s performance. At the same time, existing subject matter has been expanded, including how governance and remuneration practices are used to encourage particular behaviours.

As factors that threaten society, the economy and the environment are increasingly understood, demand is growing for information about how corporate activity jeopardises or contributes to long-term sustainability goals, the report states.

However, the absence of a universally accepted approach to categorising all the components of the landscape has confused reporters, while users of information increasingly complain that reports contain ‘immaterial clutter’. Lois Guthrie, founding director at the CDSB, said: ‘The past decade has seen the rise of a new order of corporate reporting. Despite this, we still lack an agreed way of describing the components of sustainability reporting.’

Recommendations to improve sustainability reports include: the development of shared objectives by reporting frameworks, such as the GRI and the CDP; greater clarity over what is considered material and organisational boundaries; and better alignment between different reporting requirements.

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