Integrated thinking and integrated reporting

written by Carol Adams

If you are not one of the 85 companies around the world in the integrated reporting <IR> pilot you have probably wondered whether you should be and are likely concerned about putting your hand up and then later not standing up to the inevitable scrutiny as well as you’d hoped.

There is a case for having a go and waiting to see how it turns.  If you like the outcome you can call it an integrated report.  You don’t have to be a pilot company to do this.

The process of producing an integrated report is actually just good business sense.  It pushes senior executives, CFOs and boards to think long term and focus on how they create value for the business.

Most well considered strategic initiatives of value to your business won’t have been developed in silos.  They will have involved a range of inputs from around your organisations.  So getting your senior executives round a table to think about how the different parts of the organisation work together in itself adds value.  Working out what it is about your people, relationships and environmental measures that add value to your business is important for long term success.  Understanding how environmental impacts can affect reputation and financial risk makes good business sense.

Getting people together to discuss these things is a first step to integrated reporting.

Do you have a strategic focus, a future orientation?  Are you responsive to stakeholders?  If so you are already following the ‘guiding principles’ of <IR>.  Make sure your reporting reflects this and you are well on the way to being able to prepare an integrated report.

Whilst <IR> should get more companies thinking a bit more about depleting natural and social capital, it runs the risk of diverting attention from big concerns of important stakeholders.

So beware of seeing <IR> as a way of reducing sustainability reporting.

And remember the importance of engaging with stakeholders to identify material issues, maintain trust and reduce your risk.

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