Changing Social Compact–shifts in stakeholder accountability

Stakeholders for some time have been raising the bar for accountability on a variety of non-financial indicators.  In partnership with the UNEP (United Nations Environment Program) Finance Initiative and the UN Global Compact and investor initiative created the Principles for Responsible Investment (PRI).  The 2010 annual report (for FY April 2009-March 2010) noted that in just under four years, approximately 22 $trillion US of assets globally have signed on to the PRI, or 10% of total global capital markets. They count over 800 signatories and seeing concrete progress in how mainstream investors integrate ESG, Environmental Social Governance into their investment practices.

In case you weren’t aware of how significant this practice is, I happened to pick up a Tweet from a recent global conference hosted by Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). I thought it worth sharing a few of my notes.

Who and What is GRI? 
Global Reporting Initiative

Vision: A sustainably global economy where organizations manage their economic,environmental, social and governance performance and impacts responsibly and report transparently.

Mission: To make sustainability reporting standard practice by providing guidance and support to organizations. © GRI 2011

GRI provides the world’s most comprehensive framework for producing sustainability reports.  These guidelines offer standardized assessment and comparability of performance and disclosure that is similar to financial reporting.  The latest annual report was issued on the 11th of May 2011; however the accumulation of  company stats reported Calendar year 2010.  Only 16% (180) of US companies  are being assured by GRI guidelines, though they produce more sustainability reports than any other country. (this is also an increase by 28% up from 140 in 2009).

Based on Sector, Financial services, Energy and Food and Beverage product companies top the list of reporting companies.

Interestingly,though more current GRI data is available,  the last year KPMG did a survey of KPMG Fortune 250 Survey October 2008 , In 2008

      •  79% (197) of Global Fortune 250 companies now release CR data, up from 62% in 2007
      •  Doubled since 2005 – up from 37% p
      •  Increasingly driven by economic concerns
      •  74% of top 100 US companies published corporate responsibility (CR) information in 2008 either as part of their annual financial report or as a separate document.  The Reasons cited:
        •  70% cited ethical considerations as primary driver for CR disclosures
        •  50% cited economic concerns as the leading reason

In 2008,   77% of G250 (Global Fortune 250)   and  69% of N100 (100 largest companies by revenue) in 22 countries used GRI.

Alternatively, BSR -Business for Social Responsibility , works with its global network of 250 member companies to develop sustainable business strategies and solutions including cross-sector collaborations.

Many US companies are obviously involved and engaged in a variety of Corporate Social Responsible (CSR) initiatives that are at this stage primarily voluntary.  BSR, a member organization, provides research and support and comparative reporting to its members, but the data is not available publicly.

Additional organizations, such as the World Business council for sustainable Development , a CEO-led global association of 200 companies is another sharing platform focused primarily on environmental issues.

American Companies, however continue to show a reticence to engage at the rigor of PRI, or GRI reporting and have the data checked by a third party.  At least that was among the recent sentiments shared by GRI’s Focal Point USA Director, Mike Wallace 

In April the monthly Booth alum discussion considered how these ideas play out, who benefits and what might be the risks of engaging in going down this path.  We’d love to get further feedback and reaction.  Any thoughts?  or further data are welcome!

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