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Why is GRI Reporting Declining in US and Growing in Canada?

With one month left to publish GRI reports in 2010, Canada is ahead but US is trailing behind GRI’s 2009 stats.

As I continue to track GRI reporting in Canada and the US, one half dozen GRI reports will need to be added to GRI’s spreadsheet for November 2010 (reporters listed below). The latest tally is summarized in this bar chart and shows some interesting results:

GRI Reporting for Canada and USA in 2010

Canada produced 53 GRI reports by the end of November 2010. With another month to go, this already shows a nice increase in reporting compared to 40 reports recorded by GRI for 2009. Canada's growth spurt has been fueled by inaugural mining reports I blogged about here. In contrast, once updated, GRI’s list will only show about 130 GRI reports published by US-based organizations by November 2010. This compares to 139 reports recorded by GRI for the US during 2009.

The latest spreadsheet containing GRI reporters from Canada and USA (2010) can be found here.  Is it too early to count the proverbial chicken? What is your guess of the final tally - do you expect the US to catch up? Is recession or other drivers behind the apparent decline in GRI reporting in the US - and how do you explain the increase in reporting by Canadian companies? 

Bacyrus, 2009 Sustainability Report, B+, GRI-checked, Equipment manufacturing

Bombardier, 2010 Online CSR Report, B, Self-declared, Logistics (Aerospace, Trains)

Capital Power, Corporate Responsibility Report 2009, A+, Third-party-checked, Electric Utilities

Cisco, CSR Report 2010, Undeclared, ITC

Clifs Natural Resources,  2009 Sustainability Report, B+,   Third-party-checked, Mining & Metals

Teck, 2009 Sustainability Report, A+, GRI-checked, Mining & Metals

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8 Responses to “Why is GRI Reporting Declining in US and Growing in Canada?”

  1. November 29th, 2010 at 8:03 am

    Mehrdad Nazari says:

    Hans Hoogeveen M.B.A., CEM, CEA posted the folloiwng comment on LinkedIn:
    “Hi Mehrdad,
    In my evaluation, there just is little reason to go the route of GRI reporting at this time. Many businesses look to the Environmental Engineers to provide compliance numbers to greenhouse gas emissions due to the future (pending) EPA regulations on carbon dioxide in the US. With that said the business case for sustainability is slowly growing, and many turn to alternative metrics to measure their efforts. Perhaps in the long run, when some of the low hanging fruit is captured through these alternative methods, GRI can provides a more sophisticated model to refine and quantify continued sustainability efforts by these companies. The majority of the focus is on the Financial and Environmental components as the Social component often takes the back seat; perhaps due to the lack of knowledge as what to consider in this Social component. The first companies to consider GRI are those who do international business for the acceptance is wide across the “puddle”. These are my thoughts from Greenville, SC where there are both international and big business abound.
    Cheers, Hans Hoogeveen”

    Many thanks for your sharing your thoughts and observations, Hans!

  2. December 3rd, 2010 at 4:02 pm

    robert richard says:

    The decline is not necessarily significant as a trend but it does raise a question why we are not seeing the percentage of US companies rising like other areas.

    I wonder if some organizations may have adopted a two-year reporting cycle so aren’t reporting this year or some other short term anomaly?

  3. December 4th, 2010 at 7:21 am

    Mehrdad Nazari says:

    Thanks for your comments, Robert. I have not noticed adoption of two-year reporting cycles or similar anomalies. I would also accept that a result in one year does not constitute a trend. But there is one trend which is evident in the data: there seems to be no evidence of any broad/exponential adoption rate of GRI reporting in the US. – Please note that there are many more CSR/Citizenship reporters (as opposed to GRI reporters) out there. They don’t make the GRI list if they don’t have – at least – a GRI Index (and preferably a declaration of Application Level).

  4. December 5th, 2010 at 1:30 pm

    GRI Report List Grows from 56 to 87 since July | Prizma says:

    [...] Why is GRI Reporting Declining in US and Growing in Canada? [...]

  5. December 6th, 2010 at 9:13 am

    Veteran Reporters Bag CRA Sustainability Reporting Awards | Prizma says:

    [...] reporting in Canada (in contrast to an apparent decline in the US – I blogged about here), it is unclear to me if such awards – usually bagged by the “usual suspects” – can [...]

  6. December 7th, 2010 at 7:50 am

    Kevin Lehner says:

    I believe it is a real trend and the result of the recent and ongoing general economic panic in businesses where many believe the sky was (and still is) falling (you can count the chickens from your graph Mehrdad). Managers at some of the few organizations here who recognized the value of sustainable metrics lost the value argument with top management who view CSR with skepticism and as a dispensable marketing ploy during a down economy.

    Generally in this country, CEOs and Boards of Directors are not interested in the metrics of sustainability. Their short term profitability goals drive investment decisions and in down economic times long term sustainability efforts suffer. I am hopeful that the Big Four’s support of deployment of a US GRI office will help sell the benefits of establishing sustainability metrics and we will see a reversal it the apparent downward trend over the next several years.

  7. December 7th, 2010 at 8:08 am

    Mehrdad Nazari says:

    Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Kevin. I note that you feel that skepticisms and PR may still trump other sustainability/metrics value arguments, especially given current economic conditions. Although I share your hope regarding US GRI Office & Big 4 involvement in terms of mainstreaming, I wonder if this will be sufficient to expand beyond a linear growth towards a more exponental adoption rate of GRI/sustainability reporting…

  8. December 17th, 2010 at 3:55 pm

    Mehrdad Nazari says:

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