‘Undeclared’ GRI reporting on decline but still over 30% in USA

Questions about the value/risk of declaring a GRI Application Level remain on the minds of many GRI G3 reporters. Globally, ‘Undeclared’ Application Levels appear to be declining (18% in 2011). However, 31% US reporters remain silent about their GRI Application Levels.

As readers of my blog will know, I am not a great fan of GRI’s Application Level Declaration (see also here and here). This topic leads to interesting (read challenging) discussions with inaugural sustainability/corporate responsibility reporters. In advance of a client meeting with an inaugural GRI reporter, I reviewed GRI’s latest statistics and updated my graphs which I would like to share with you.

There appears to be a declining trend of ‘Undeclared’ reporting (and I counted ‘blank’ entries in the relevant GRI column also as ‘undeclared’). About 1/3 of US reporters – including well-known brands – appear to prefer to remain silent about the Application Level of their sustainability reports.

How do you approach this topic? Where do you encounter the strongest resistance to declaring a GRI Application Level? 

 PS – You may also be interested in this blog post: Which US brands do not declare GRI Application Levels? 

PPS -Looking at the current numbers of 741 reports recorded by GRI for 2011 (by 26 Oct 2011), I have my doubts if we will see some of the high reporting estimates for 2011 (as high as 2,750) collected during a straw poll of CSR experts

 

About the author: Mehrdad Nazari (MBA, MSc, LEAD Fellow) is a Corporate Responsibility, Sustainability Reporting & ESIA Advisor, and Director of Prizma. He was previously an environmental consultant with Dames & Moore, Principal Environmental Specialist at the European Bank and CSR Research Director at CoreRatings. Mehrdad has co-delivered a dozen GRI-certified courses on GRI’s sustainability reporting framework and is also a Licensed AA1000 Assurance Provider. Access Prizma’s latest newsletters here.

4 Comments to ‘Undeclared’ GRI reporting on decline but still over 30% in USA

  1. […] About « ‘Undeclared’ GRI reporting on decline but still over 30% in USA […]

  2. Interesting analysis! I suspect the decline in declarations this past year could also be due to GRI dropping the use of the self-declared icon and the 3rd party icon (was that back in March?). Now that reporters must obtain a GRI declaration statement (with blue icon, taking up space in a space-constrained CR report and probably complicating the publishing schedule for reporters), they may be thinking twice about declaring. I work with a number of companies who use the application levels more as an internal guide for their reporting roadmap – partly for those ‘logistical’ reasons I just mentioned. That said, I – like you – am not a great fan of the Application Level framework. But no doubt it will be under review in the G4. Any readers who have not yet given their views on the G4, please go to http://www.globalreporting.org/CurrentPriorities/G4Developments/GetInvolved/ – deadline for comments is 24 Nov. Thanks.

  3. Thanks for sharing your comments, Helena, and posting it also on my blog.

    I would agree that dropping the Third Party Check icon may have contributed to more organizations considering the use of a GRI Check. However, that process remains optional (not a requirement by GRI).

    As in the past, organizations can still continue to use one of three options: self-declaration, Third Party Check and GRI Check (with only the latter offering an icon/GRI letter that can be included in the report).

    The decision to use GRI Check (+ icon) seems to be largely a question of perceived value add in terms of bolstering the credibility of the report. (And I blogged about this topic earlier: http://tinyurl.com/d3uneuf). And the GRI Check process (and perceived value add) competes with many – and I think more powerful – approaches to adding credibility that can impress certain segments of the report readers. These include ‘real’ and effective stakeholder engagement, using other forms of product/process/label certifications, participating in cross-sectoral initiatives, involving (external) stakeholder panels and – of course – proper assurance (AA1000 etc).

    Will GRI G4 reconsider the Application Level declaration approach (which also contributes an important income stream which was also discussed in my blog mentioned above)?

  4. Thanks for sharing your comments, Helena.

    I think that dropping the Third Party Check icon may have contributed to more organizations considering the use of a GRI Check. However, this remains optional and not a GRI requirement.

    As in the past, organizations can still continue to use one of three options: self-declaration, Third Party Check and GRI Check (with only the latter offering an icon/GRI letter that can be included in the report).

    The decision to use GRI Check (+ icon) seems to be largely a question of perceived value add in terms of bolstering the credibility of the report. (And I blogged about this topic earlier: http://tinyurl.com/d3uneuf). And the GRI Check process (and perceived value add) competes with many – and I think more powerful – approaches to adding credibility that can impress certain segments of the report readers. These include ‘real’ and effective stakeholder engagement, using other forms of product/process/label certifications, participating in cross-sectoral initiatives, involving (external) stakeholder panels and – of course – proper assurance (AA1000 etc).

    Will GRI G4 reconsider the current GRI Application Level declaration approach (which also contributes an important income stream which was also discussed in my blog mentioned above)?

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