GRI reporting, simplified
ISOS Group has worked with Measurabl to create their GRI G4 reporting solution. After months of painstaking work deconstructing G4 and re-building it from the ground up, we uncovered some insights one can only find by getting buried in the content. Here’s what we learned after we came up for air.
1. Materiality through stakeholder engagement
Let’s face it – we’re human and sometimes we struggle with seeing all sides of an issue. Leaning on the thoughts and concerns of others using GRI’s stakeholder engagement process will shed light on a situation, fine tune an approach and even spur innovation. Who doesn’t want that?
Though best practice is often assumed to be a matter of applying GRI’s reporting principles defining report content, we’ve found most organizations are actually scared of opening their doors to input from others, particularly those outside the organization. Because of this, many have failed to leverage the power of stakeholder engagement, which is truly the best approach for defining your report content. To break down this barrier, we worked with Measurabl’s developers team to develop a stakeholder module that would:
- Help prioritize stakeholder groups
- Collect stakeholder views on issues they feel are most relevant (a.k.a. “material”) for the organization to report
By reducing the burden of the engagement process and jumping straight to addressing those most material issues, you’re putting yourself in a position to compile and analyze real, meaningful results. From there, you can generate your GRI Materiality matrix and map out areas of your organization’s control.
2. GOT Data?
If you’re like most organizations we work with you’ll have even less data than you think! That’s because unlike other non-financial disclosures, GRI-based reporting wasn’t developed to be a survey, but rather a process for determining what matters to your organization with the goal of driving change throughout the organization and beyond. That means a lot of fresh data requirements are uncovered in the reporting process. Addressing “General Standard Disclosures” about the organization’s profile, reporting practices and even governance structures may seem relatively easy. But when advancing to “Specific Standard Disclosures” or key performance indicators, data becomes more scarce. Being able to furnish it all means your organization will have to:
- Develop policies with procedural guidelines for implementing mitigation strategies
- Employ data tracking mechanisms, in particular building utility data, travel data and other sources of carbon emissions and water usage
- Enforce quality controls to ensure data accuracy
Due to the complexity of today’s organizations, data collection and calculations all but require software. This is particularly true when attempting to produce GRI-compliant Economic, Environmental, and Social key performance indicators. One good approach is to compiling data from other pre-existing sustainability questionnaires such as CDP or GRESB to create a “single source of truth” about your organization’s data that can then be used to power all your reporting. This will lead to more consistency and by far less effort.
3. “DMAs” EQUAL corporate DNA
For those who have taken the time to glance over the plethora of sustainability reports issued annually, statements like, “Sustainability is in our DNA,” are all too common. After all, it’s really only the last ten years or so that sustainability has entered our lexicon, or been tied to corporate directives. The Disclosure on Management Approach (DMA) truly helps reporting organizations move beyond commitment to actions. The three main features of a DMA are:
- Why a reported issue is relevant
- What its impacts are and how they’re being mitigated
- How progress is evaluated
By addressing each of these items, disclosure becomes more than just a few performance measures. Instead, it becomes a demonstrable strategic approach taken to identify issues and manage them. Our experience with GRI informs our understanding of how extremely complex DMAs can become, and our approach to determining materiality was specifically engineered to function as a pre-screener of information, focusing on the key performance indicators that are material to each specific GRI report. Working with Measurabl to transform the GRI G4 Guidelines into a survey approach was an incredible task. But we’ve always been firm believers of moving through each disclosure item one-by-one and that dissecting each GRI disclosure requirement into its quantitative and qualitative components would yield the best result for the reporter and, ultimately, its stakeholders.
ISOS Group is a pioneering corporate social responsibility (CSR) and sustainability firm that helps drive value creation for the world’s most innovative brands. They guide clients in enhancing their competitive leadership through business practices that make a lasting contribution to the well-being of all their stakeholders and the planet at large.