Pushing for shared value as a minimum

Sustainability reporting is in a really exciting place right now. DON’T STOP READING – IT REALLY IS! A growth in the number of businesses choosing to focus resource on tackling their key impacts – the ones that when addressed can create value for the wider world as well as for their business – is in part due to the recent shake-up of reporting guidelines.

The newly updated GRI reporting guidelines asks that businesses go back to basics and engage meaningfully with stakeholders to identify the issues and impacts that really matter. These selected issues will form the basis for sustainability strategies, activities, performance and in turn reporting. Done in truth, this could see businesses moving towards adopting at least a shared value approach, where activities with win, win outcomes are prioritised. After all, for a company that produces orange juice, it makes good business sense to invest in ensuring that the environmental, economic and social conditions for the cultivation of oranges will exist in the future. However popular the Head Office’s paper recycling scheme is.

If that’s not enough to convince you, the IIRC also released their Integrated Reporting guidelines in December. These too have material issue identification at their heart and are based on a vision of integrated thinking for business. In this vision, businesses consider and address all of the risks and opportunities – environmental and social as well as just financial – that shape their ability to thrive and indeed survive in the future.

Whether businesses see the reporting implications of either set of guidelines as the best use of their time and money, or the best way for them to communicate their activities and progress, remains to be seen. But, the logic behind both guidelines – to push for a holistic vision and approach for business – are, in essence a leap in the right direction. I think that’s pretty exciting.

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