GRI contributes to Harvard E-book on integrated reporting
01 December 2010

​GRI’s Ernst Ligteringen, Nelmara Arbex and Mike Wallace contributed articles to an E-book published by Harvard Business School in November. Harvard Business School ran a conference on integrated reporting in October 2010, “Developing an Action Plan for Integrated Reporting”. Speakers were invited to submit contributions to a follow-on publication, the E-book The Landscape of Integrated Reporting: Reflections and Next Steps.
​In the new E-book, Ernst Ligteringen and Nelmara Arbex ask the question “Will Integrated Reporting Make Sustainability Reporting Obsolete?” In the article, they reflect on the “buzzword” of the last year – integrated reporting – and consider what steps reporters will need to take to make it a reality. Several companies are already reporting on their financial and sustainability performance together, but there is still a long way to go. Challenges, they say, include mainstreaming environmental, social and governance (ESG) reporting. One way GRI aims to do this is by developing more robust ESG Reporting Guidelines, which could be used as a basis for future integrated reporting guidance.

The article concludes: “We strongly believe that the way to develop integrated reporting is to use the same approach as the multi-stakeholder network, continuously developing sustainability and ESG reporting, but in an expanded and more collaborative form. We therefore welcome integrated reporting as a powerful force to achieve GRI’s mission of mainstreaming ESG reporting by companies around the world.”

As part of this effort to mainstream reporting globally, GRI has Focal Points situated in Australia, Brazil, China, India and, most recently, the USA. Reporting in the USA lags behind some other parts of the world, including Europe, both in terms of quantity and quality. Mike Wallace, Director of GRI’s Focal Point USA, explores some of the reasons behind this in his article “Will the USA Take a Leap? Barriers to Integrated Reporting”. One of the reasons for the lag, says Mike, is that US companies are reluctant to disclose voluntary information at the risk of legal consequences. This may have an impact on integrated reporting in the USA, which may require the ESG content of the report to be as robust as the financial content.

“My prediction is that the US will catch up with Europe and run with integrated reporting, once its true value is realized. GRI’s new Focal Point USA will help US organizations reap the benefits of ESG reporting, enabling them to think about integrated reporting in the future,” says Mike.