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Digital reporting strategies for improved transparency
04 September 2018

​Assicurazioni Generali, known as Generali Group, the third largest insurance company in the world, has been engaging in sustainability reporting for the past 14 years. For the latest report, they have made use of a digital platform to present the most current information. Lucia Silva, Group Head of Sustainability and Social Responsibility, talked to GRI about their process, the advantage of using digital platforms, and the long term opportunities that sustainability reporting gives organizations to improve their processes. 
Why does Generali Group engage in sustainability reporting? What kind of reporting challenges do you face? 
As a Group we are strongly convinced of the importance of being sustainable in our day-to-day business and we believe being transparent and accountable to our stakeholders reinforces our commitment. Even if it is not simple in a large company like Generali, we believe it is of fundamental importance that business areas work together, with a common vision, breaking silos, to satisfy the broad range of its stakeholders’ expectations. This year, a number of functions across the company have collaborated in order to define and implement a common reporting approach, expressed in the Annual Integrated Report. 

At GRI we are always looking for examples of innovative reporting based on the GRI Standards. It has come to our attention that Generali has referenced the GRI Standards in its Annual Integrated Report for 2017, and published a GRI Content Index in accordance – core option, that links directly to a digital version of the data. Can you share more about the process and future developments for your integrated report.

We started reporting on our commitment to contribute to society 14 years ago through our Sustainability Report, published annually and approved by the Group’s Board of Directors. For the last three years we have also published an Integrated Report, which describes the sustainability integration process into the business, as stated in our Charter of Sustainability Commitments, and makes clear to all our stakeholders how sustainability underpins our business development and its results.

In 2018 we presented our value creation process in the long term through the Annual Integrated Report and Consolidated Financial Statements, connecting financial and non-financial information. To provide an increasingly clear picture of the direction taken by the business, we enriched the content of the Report with further information and insights available in various sections of the Group website. 

Why did you choose for producing a referenced report, and then a content index in accordance – core option? 
Italy implemented Directive 95/2014/EU on the “disclosure of non-financial and diversity information by certain large undertakings and groups”, with Legislative Decree no. 254 of 31 December 2016. The decree requires large companies qualifying as “public interest entities” to prepare and publish a Non-Financial Statement. In its 2017 Annual Integrated Report and Consolidated Financial Statements, Generali also reported certain non-financial information identified through a specific materiality process. This is a GRI-referenced report as it focuses on the ‘core’ of our sustainability reporting. To provide all stakeholders with a complete view of our commitments, actions and performance, additional sustainability information was published in various sections of the Group website. The information published in the Annual Integrated Report and on our website gives the full picture of our sustainability reporting, which forms the basis for our GRI Content Index in accordance - core option. 

We see that there is a move towards putting your data online, and making it comparable against previous years, which is commendable. Can you tell us more about the process? What are the benefits that Generali Group sees from doing most of the reporting online? And what are the challenges?
The shift to online reporting allows us to give a complete and constantly updated view of ourselves and of what we do, as insurers and a responsible company, through textual, visual and multimedia contents. This approach is in line with our Charter of Sustainability Commitments and with the goal of integrating sustainability into the business. 
In 2018, the website section dedicated to the company’s responsibilities was updated and redesigned to communicate our sustainability journey in a transparent and effective way for all our stakeholders. 

As investors, how do you approach sustainable investment. At the end of the day investors will always be concerned with profits first. Given this fact, is it realistic to think that a majority of investors will ever truly be able to take on the type of longer-term thinking needed to become interested in sustainability data?
In our double role as issuer and global institutional investor we see an ever increasing interest in sustainability data and we are strongly convinced of its importance. We are signatories of the United Nations Global Compact and the Principles for Responsible Investments (PRI). For a number of years now we have been basing our investment strategies on sustainability criteria, both through the Group Responsible Investment Guideline and our SRI funds, delivering on the promise of guaranteeing profitability in the present as well as in the long-term. This type of longer term thinking is already spreading. As issuers, we have recently started a pilot ESG Investors roadshow where we come into contact with a number of investors already focused on these topics.