Integrated Reporting – A fad or a step change?
Listening to a panel discussion convened in Johannesburg and involving leading South African sustainability reporters made me wonder: is Integrated Reporting a new fad or a step change?
In mid September 2010, I had the opportunity to attend a Sustainability Assurance Practitioner Course held in Johannesburg. The course was co-sponsored by
“Integrated reporting is not for the faint hearted” was one of the memorable quotes emerging from the panel discussion. The quote underlines the challenges associated with a (more) systematic integration of broader sustainability issues as part of companies’ strategy development, engagement of stakeholders, assessment and management of material risks, financial reporting and assurance processes. Side shows of the discussion included the meaning of “integrated” (one physical report/publication vs. integrated reporting of financial and non-financial performance) and role/competition/competencies of assurance providers and auditors (Big 4 vs. CSR/Sustainability Assurers). So is Integrated Reporting anything new? Is it just a fad? And does it have legs to go the distance?
My impression from the panel discussions is that King III is catalyzing a step change in discussions around approach to determining and managing material risks, and the sustainability reporting process. The associated issues are moving up the food chain to C-Suite and Board Committees. Considering the serious efforts by South African (and other) reporters and emergence of new bodies, such as the
Do you think Integrated Reporting can be mainstreamed and provide an extra push to take sustainability reporting beyond the “usual suspects”? Will this help those who have yet to adopt sustainability reporting (and underlying processes)? Or will this become a playground and new celebration opportunities for those already considered to be leading reporters?