As the need for business reporting on CSR grows (see yesterday’s post on emissions reporting in the US) so does the guidance on how to conduct businesses responsibility and to report on sustainability performance. The latest move is a partnership between the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) and the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
Announced in December, the partnership will bring together the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework. The OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises cover all major areas of business ethics and are addressed to all the activities of multinational enterprises operating in or from the 42 adhering countries. GRI provides a widely-used framework for producing sustainability reports with a vision of making disclosure of economic, environmental and social performance as commonplace and comparable as financial reporting.
Basically, the GRI provides guidance on how to measure sustainability performance and the OECD provides the means to assess such performance. The Memorandum of Understanding between the organisations establishes a three year programme to encourage companies to use both the OECD Guidelines for Multinational Enterprises and the GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework. The agreement also outlines the way GRI and OECD can work together to leverage the common ground between the two organisations.
Well the more we have universal standards for CSR/sustainability assessments and reporting the better, since complexity and confusion can only slow down adoption. It also means that IT solutions designed to help companies manage and report data and information become universally applicable and simpler to use (which means cheaper).
The IT market thrives on business complexity, particularly when driven by compliance legislation, but widespread legislation around CSR reporting still seems a long way off. The simpler CSR reporting is the more likely it is to be adopted voluntarily.