Integrated reporting has been talked about for some time now, but few people involved in corporate reporting can have failed to notice the upsurge in interest in the last 12 months. A number of companies would justifiably claim that they are already ‘there’. But even amongst this group there is confusion as to what exactly integrated reporting is and how it’s different from annual or sustainability reporting.
The truth is that integrated reporting is complicated because there are several dimensions to it. Of the many publications that are out there already on the subject each one talks about it from a slightly different angle. By the time you’ve read even a few (and believe us we’ve read lots) your head is spinning!
We’ve come to the conclusion that, when you cut through the clutter, it boils down to two basic dimensions:
- INTEGRATED THINKING – developing an integrated corporate strategy and management approach
We think all companies should do this.
- INTEGRATED COMMUNICATIONS – telling an integrated story to your stakeholders
This is less clear-cut. A single Integrated Report is not the solution for everyone. There are different answers for different companies and for different stakeholders.
In this supplement we explore these dimensions and get the inside view from Dr Rory Sullivan, a leading Socially Responsible Investment (SRI) expert, and Vodacom, a South African company that has just produced its first Integrated Report. We also unpack what actually goes into an Integrated Report. But first, answers to some burning questions.
The sustainability agenda has long been focused on integration – driving the consideration of environmental, social and socio-economic issues into corporate strategy, and therefore corporate reporting. The word ‘integrated’ would be well positioned in a sustainability tag-cloud. Added to this, the EU and various national governments have been looking hard at mandatory environmental/ sustainability reporting, with countries such as Denmark enforcing some basic requirements.
All of this has been aimed at encouraging companies to consider non-financial, longer-term factors when talking about their risks, performance and growth prospects.