Global Reporting Initiative (GRI)
The Global Reporting Initiative a non-profit organization that produces one of the world’s most prevalent standards for sustainability reporting, collectively known as the “GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework”.21 The framework includes specific guidelines (the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines) for focusing on four (4) key areas of sustainability performance: economic, environmental, governance, and social, with the ‘social’ category being sub-divided as: 1) labor practices and decent work, 2) human rights, 3) society and 4) product responsibility. The key principles of the Sustainability Reporting Guidelines (currently in their fourth iteration, and hence referred to as the ‘G4 Guidelines’) are summarized below. 22
G4 Principles for Defining Report Content
Participant organizations should identify stakeholders and explicate responses to their reasonable expectations and interests.
Reporting should present the organizational performance in the broader context of sustainability.
Reporting should address organizations’ significant economic, environmental and social impacts and/ or aspects that substantively influence the assessments and decisions of stakeholders.
Reporting should include coverage of material aspects and their boundaries, sufficient to reflect significant economic, environmental, and social impacts, and organizations should enable stakeholders to assess the organization’s performance in the reporting period.
G4 Principles for Defining Report Quality
Reporting should reflect positive and negative aspects of organizational performance to enable a reasoned assessment of overall performance.
Organizations should select, compile and report information consistently. Reported information should be presented in a manner that enables stakeholders to analyze changes in organizational performance over time, and that could support analysis relative to other organizations.
Reported information should be sufficiently accurate and detailed for stakeholders to assess organizational performance.
Organizations should report on a regular schedule so that information is available in time for stakeholders to make informed decisions.
Organizations should make information available in a manner that is understandable and accessible to stakeholders.
Organizations should gather, record, compile, analyze and disclose information and processes used in the preparation reporting documents in a way that they can be subject to examination and that establishes the quality and materiality of the information.
The G4 Sustainability Reporting Guidelines provides for different categories of information that participating organizations must disclose—defined both in terms of ‘General Standard Disclosures’ and ‘Specific Standard Disclosures’. The guidelines also distinguish between two tiers of compliance: ‘Core’ and ‘Comprehensive’, the latter tier requiting additional reporting elements, including information on the organization’s strategy for operational management, governance, as well as a statement of ethics.