Com­pul­sory Sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing is a must for large com­pa­nies in the EU

Financial Mirror (Cyprus) - - FRONT PAGE -

Build­ing a com­pany is no easy task and, once built, ev­ery­thing should be done to main­tain and in­crease its value. This is why sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing (also known as CSR re­port­ing) is vi­tally im­por­tant not only for a com­pany in en­sur­ing the sus­tain­abil­ity of its per­for­mance and its longterm prof­itabil­ity but also for the econ­omy of the com­pany’s home coun­try.

More­over, ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tive 2014/95/EU (we can say more about it later) large com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the EU must dis­close rel­e­vant non­fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion re­gard­ing their ac­tiv­ity to their stake­hold­ers. Let’s not for­get that we live in the in­for­ma­tion age: in­for­ma­tion is freely and in­stantly ac­ces­si­ble through­out the globe. Com­plete trans­parency is a fact, so build­ing a re­la­tion­ship based on mu­tual trust, trans­parency and hon­esty be­tween a com­pany and its share­hold­ers, clients, in­vestors, em­ploy­ees, NGOs or lo­cal com­mu­ni­ties is key to its sur­vival and long-term pros­per­ity in the dig­i­tal age – as is deal­ing re­spon­si­bly and con­sci­en­tiously with its en­vi­ron­men­tal im­pacts.

What ex­actly does the di­rec­tive say? Which com­pa­nies must is­sue a sus­tain­abil­ity re­port?

Ac­cord­ing to Di­rec­tive 2014/95/EU large com­pa­nies op­er­at­ing in the EU (com­pa­nies, that is, with more than 500 em­ploy­ees) must dis­close rel­e­vant non-fi­nan­cial in­for­ma­tion to their stake­hold­ers. This is in or­der for in­vestors, em­ploy­ees, cus­tomers, sup­pli­ers to have a com­plete pic­ture (and a reli­able one, too) of a com­pany’s de­vel­op­ment, per­for­mance, po­si­tion and, not least, of the im­pact of its poli­cies and ac­tiv­ity. Com­pa­nies are re­quired to dis­close vi­tal in­for­ma­tion on their poli­cies, prin­ci­pal risks and out­comes, in­clud­ing en­vi­ron­men­tal, so­cial and em­ployee is­sues, re­spect for hu­man rights, anti-cor­rup­tion and bribery mat­ters. The di­rec­tive ap­plies from 5 De­cem­ber 2014 and EU coun­tries must in­cor­po­rate it in their na­tional law by 6 De­cem­ber 2016.

Why are the Global Re­port­ing Ini­tia­tive’s (GRI) Guide­lines the best sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing frame­work?

Sus­tain­abil­ity be­comes more and more a ref­er­ence point for the changes tak­ing place in to­day’s com­pa­nies, mar­kets and so­ci­ety it­self to­wards a truly sus­tain­able global econ­omy and a com­pany needs reli­able, trust­wor­thy al­lies in this new era. GRI has pi­o­neered sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing since the late 1990s and pro­vides the world’s most widely used stan­dards on sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing: 80% of the world’s 250 largest com­pa­nies is­sue Cor­po­rate So­cial Re­spon­si­bil­ity (CSR) re­ports in ac­cor­dance with the GRI Guide­lines and, in to­tal, more than 5,000 or­ga­ni­za­tions across more than 90 coun­tries have used the GRI Guide­lines for their sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing. What’s more, the UN Global Com­pact, which Di­rec­tive 2014/95/EU sug­gests that com­pa­nies use in pre­par­ing their state­ments, has adopted the GRI Guide­lines as the rec­om­mended re­port­ing frame­work for com­pa­nies to com­mu­ni­cate on progress made.

How, in gen­eral terms, is a sus­tain­abil­ity re­port based on GRI-G4 pre­pared?

By fol­low­ing four ba­sic steps: a) Iden­tify your i mpacts on the en­vi­ron­ment and stake­hold­ers. From the mo­ment a com­pany is founded it will have im­pacts not only on the en­vi­ron­ment, but also on its stake­hold­ers. What are these im­pacts? Shar­ing rel­e­vant in­for­ma­tion with the right peo­ple (your most sig­nif­i­cant stake­hold­ers) will of­fer you in­valu­able feed­back on the im­pacts of your com­pany’s poli­cies, op­er­a­tions and prac­tices, as long as the in­for­ma­tion shared is ac­cu­rate, hon­est and com­plete.

b) “What you can­not mea­sure you can­not man­age, what you can­not man­age you can­not change”: your com­pany’s ob­jec­tives and tar­gets should be SMART (Spe­cific, Mea­sure­able, At­tain­able, Rel­e­vant, Time-Bound).

c) Take Ac­tion. Set tar­gets to min­i­mize your neg­a­tive im­pacts and in­crease your pos­i­tive im­pacts on the en­vi­ron­ment and the com­pany’s stake­hold­ers deal­ing openly, re­spon­si­bly and con­sci­en­tiously with these im­pacts.

d) Re­port your Con­tin­u­ous Per­for­mance Im­prove­ment (CPI) and do so by en­ter­ing and fol­low­ing the Plan-DoCheck-Ad­just cy­cle: Plan: Iden­tify and an­a­lyze a prob­lem. Do: De­velop and test a po­ten­tial so­lu­tion. Check: Mea­sure how ef­fec­tive the so­lu­tion was. Ad­just: Im­ple­ment the im­proved so­lu­tion fully.

What are the ben­e­fits of sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing for a com­pany?

More and more, globe are choos­ing in­di­vid­u­als and com­pa­nies across the ser­vices and prod­ucts based on how so­cially re­spon­si­ble a com­pany is, tak­ing into ac­count not only the com­pany’s good CSR prac­tices but, also, the prac­tices of its sup­pli­ers. By en­gag­ing with GRI CSR re­port­ing a com­pany uti­lizes a frame­work that al­lows it to iden­tify and man­age risks and em­brace op­por­tu­ni­ties – and, above all, con­trib­ute to the cre­ation of a sus­tain­able global econ­omy. Sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing will help a com­pany: a) iden­tify and eval­u­ate prob­lem ar­eas be­fore they be­come un­wel­come sur­prises and dis­cover un­ex­pected op­por­tu­ni­ties ahead of its com­peti­tors, b) gain ac­cess to new mar­kets and clients, c) at­tract fund­ing, d) at­tract, mo­ti­vate and keep its em­ploy­ees en­hanc­ing its rep­u­ta­tion, e) gain com­pet­i­tive ad­van­tage as sus­tain­abil­ity re­port­ing is still not com­mon prac­tice across all busi­ness sec­tors, f) build a solid re­la­tion­ship, based on mu­tual trust and re­spect, with its stake­hold­ers, prov­ing that it ac­knowl­edges and takes ac­tion to min­i­mize its neg­a­tive im­pacts.

Can you tell us more about FBRH?

FBRH is the only Cer­ti­fied Train­ing Part­ner and Or­ga­ni­za­tional Stake­holder of the Global Re­port­ing Ini­tia­tive (GRI) in Cyprus. FBRH is also one of three com­pa­nies, which are GRI Cer­ti­fied Train­ing Part­ners in the UK. Since 2008 we have man­aged (prepa­ra­tion and com­mu­ni­ca­tion) 30 CSR re­ports for ma­jor cor­po­ra­tions based on the GRI Guide­lines. We com­bine a de­tailed, spe­cial­ized knowl­edge of the GRI-G4 Frame­work with many years of hands-on ex­pe­ri­ence in Re­search, Com­mu­ni­ca­tion, Ad­ver­tis­ing, Mar­ket­ing, cut­ting edge tech­nol­ogy, pro­vid­ing new me­dia tools for ef­fec­tive cor­po­rate com­mu­ni­ca­tions.

So, how does a com­pany start with its sus­tain­abil­ity re­port?

By at­tend­ing (the CSR team) the FBRH 2-day GRI-G4 Cer­ti­fied Master­class, which pro­vides par­tic­i­pants with the knowl­edge, skills and abil­i­ties re­quired to suc­cess­fully start and com­plete a sus­tain­abil­ity re­port. For more in­for­ma­tion, please visit our web­site:

www.fbrh/eu/csr

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