Lessons from the GRI Focal Point Conference

Several Standing team members attended Master Classes at the first U.S. Focal Point Conference for the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) this week. I attended the Master Class on GRI reporting, whichGRI provided an overview of the GRI organization, the framework and the benefits of sustainability reporting. 

The panelists from ISOS Group and BrownFlynn shared a lot of how-to information, as well as some eye-opening information about the GRI report and the growing importance of sustainability reporting.

GRI is not just a report.
- It’s a multi-stakeholder institution that combines input from companies and organizations around the world to develop a comprehensive, standard reporting framework. 
- It’s a process, which can inform a company how to better manage its business for long-term success based on the insights found through reporting. 
- It’s a framework for improving the quality of sustainability disclosures around the world. 
- It’s a report guideline that aims to make sustainability reporting a standard practice for all organizations.

A culture of sustainability can benefit a company’s performance.
Professors from Harvard Business School and London Business School researched the effect of a corporate culture of sustainability on corporate behavior and performance outcomes. They found High Sustainability companies significantly outperform Low Sustainability companies. Read the full report.

Many news agencies and other organizations rank companies based on sustainability.
For example, Newsweek does an annual Green Rankings of U.S. companies and global companies. Princeton Review ranks Green Colleges. The Dow Jones launched its Sustainability Indexes in 1999.

Newsweek Green Rankings

Google Finance started listing Carbon Disclosure Rankings.
Google Finance provides a company summary page for companies. The key stats and ratios section now includes Carbon Disclosure Ranking. Not all companies have one listed, but the fact that this number is now being highlighted on a major search engine, shows the growing importance of reporting.

It was enlightening to see the number of people attending the Master Classes this week. We at Standing agree that sustainability and transparent reporting will become increasingly important to businesses across many industries, and hope the large attendance is a sign of more companies also reaching that realization. If your company is considering a report, check out a recent post from my colleague, Kristin Gumper, about best kept secrets for reporting.