What GRI’s New G4 Guidelines Mean to You

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What GRI’s New G4 Guidelines Mean to You

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.@AddisonCSR explains what GRI's new #G4 Guidelines mean for you and your company http://3bl.me/cgwe2t
Tuesday, November 12, 2013 - 10:30am

CONTENT: Blog

By Keith Littlejohns and Tim Woodall

Sustainability Strategists at Addison

A lot has already been written on the new GRI G4 framework. But as an agency that is working directly with companies to produce CSR/sustainability reports, we thought you might appreciate more of a non-technical breakdown of these changes. As we begin to assist our clients in navigating the new framework, one of the first things we noticed is that there is currently no official Content Index template for reporters to use. So we made one for you to use*, at no charge, to help you begin to assess your level of disclosure next year.

The spreadsheet lists the new G4 General and Specific Standard Disclosures, and provides the corresponding G3.1 indicators so that you can easily match up your answers from last year in a gap analysis. On the third tab, we offer a starting point for your materiality analysis, with all of GRI’s Material Aspects to consider for your organization’s key issues. However, you should keep in mind that there are always additional topics which are material to every company (and not identified by GRI), and these should be included on the matrix as well.

Below, we’ve described the broad changes for the G4 framework, and how they will affect your reporting going forward. These include the importance of materiality in your report, a greater focus on the supply chain, and the increased expectations for how senior leadership will need to be involved (more than simply writing a letter).

Materiality Front and Center

The G4 framework’s renewed attention to materiality means that companies are able to truly focus on the issues that are most important to their business, and put these front and center in the report. Transparency and authenticity trump the number of boxes checked, as it’s no longer a matter of striving to qualify for an “A-level” report. This provides an incentive to move less-material sections of a report to a more functional location in the GRI Index or on the main company site for more “evergreen” content. If stakeholders aren’t reading it, and the subject matter remains static each year, it doesn’t need prominence in the sustainability report.

Readers should be able to quickly identify a company’s most relevant topics and how they fit into a bigger picture of what the company is doing overall. Companies should harness this focus to help foster new ideas and breed innovation in the areas where it can make the most difference to stakeholders. G4 should be viewed as a business opportunity, not a burden to be endured.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for materiality: 18, 19, 20, 21 and Disclosures on Management Approach for each Material Aspect.

Spotlight on Suppliers

Right from the beginning (Standard Disclosure 12), the G4 framework lays out another key difference from G3.1. After materiality, supply chain transparency is the largest challenge reporters will face. All told, there are 12 relatively new disclosures that ask how current suppliers are evaluated, and how new suppliers are screened for environmental performance, employee relations, human rights, and their impact on society. Companies are going to have to increase their transparency on a subject that has been lacking in many reports to date. And that’s a good thing.

Requesting information on companies’ supplier relationships elevates the importance of promoting an ethical, transparent supply chain. In some cases, this new focus may involve some supplier terminations, which might help in the short term. But historically, companies that have received bad press for their supply chain, such as Gap, have turned their operations around to offer best-in-class practices and disclosure. By taking a closer look at their supply chains, companies are committing to being responsible citizens and can document their efforts to prevent tragedies such as the recent ones in India and Bangladesh.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for supply chain: 12, 21, EC9, EN17, EN32, EN33, LA14, LA15, HR4, HR5, HR6, HR10, HR11, SO9 and SO10

Accountability Starts at the Top

Lastly, the G4 framework encourages an added level of engagement from senior leadership and the CEO. Companies should be prepared to disclose how senior executives and boards are responsible for the organization’s sustainability report. In addition, the CEO will need to sign off on the selection of material issues, and his or her letter should include key events, achievements, and failures during the reporting period.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for accountability: 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48.

Conclusion

In some ways, producing a G4 GRI report is going to be more difficult. Taking a hard look at internal priorities and stakeholder expectations, committing to more supply chain transparency, and having executives involved in the reporting process will make things a bit trickier than in years past.

However, once the initial effort has been made, CSR and sustainability reports will ultimately be more focused, broader in their assumption of responsibility, and require greater executive commitment—ultimately leading to more systemic and positive change than ever before.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to seeing your G4 reports next year.

*This spreadsheet is not an official publication of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), nor has it been reviewed by any members of GRI in an official capacity.

 

By Keith Littlejohns & Tim Woodall
Strategists, Sustainability Communications

A lot has already been written on the new GRI G4 framework. But as an agency that is working directly with companies to produce CSR/sustainability reports, we thought you might appreciate more of a non-technical breakdown of these changes. As we begin to assist our clients in navigating the new framework, one of the first things we noticed is that there is currently no official Content Index template for reporters to use. So we made one for you to use*, at no charge, to help you begin to assess your level of disclosure next year.

The spreadsheet lists the new G4 General and Specific Standard Disclosures, and provides the corresponding G3.1 indicators so that you can easily match up your answers from last year in a gap analysis. On the third tab, we offer a starting point for your materiality analysis, with all of GRI’s Material Aspects to consider for your organization’s key issues. However, you should keep in mind that there are always additional topics which are material to every company (and not identified by GRI), and these should be included on the matrix as well.

Below, we’ve described the broad changes for the G4 framework, and how they will affect your reporting going forward. These include the importance of materiality in your report, a greater focus on the supply chain, and the increased expectations for how senior leadership will need to be involved (more than simply writing a letter).

Materiality Front and Center

The G4 framework’s renewed attention to materiality means that companies are able to truly focus on the issues that are most important to their business, and put these front and center in the report. Transparency and authenticity trump the number of boxes checked, as it’s no longer a matter of striving to qualify for an “A-level” report. This provides an incentive to move less-material sections of a report to a more functional location in the GRI Index or on the main company site for more “evergreen” content. If stakeholders aren’t reading it, and the subject matter remains static each year, it doesn’t need prominence in the sustainability report.

Readers should be able to quickly identify a company’s most relevant topics and how they fit into a bigger picture of what the company is doing overall. Companies should harness this focus to help foster new ideas and breed innovation in the areas where it can make the most difference to stakeholders. G4 should be viewed as a business opportunity, not a burden to be endured.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for materiality: 18, 19, 20, 21 and Disclosures on Management Approach for each Material Aspect.

Spotlight on Suppliers

Right from the beginning (Standard Disclosure 12), the G4 framework lays out another key difference from G3.1. After materiality, supply chain transparency is the largest challenge reporters will face. All told, there are 12 relatively new disclosures that ask how current suppliers are evaluated, and how new suppliers are screened for environmental performance, employee relations, human rights, and their impact on society. Companies are going to have to increase their transparency on a subject that has been lacking in many reports to date. And that’s a good thing.

Requesting information on companies’ supplier relationships elevates the importance of promoting an ethical, transparent supply chain. In some cases, this new focus may involve some supplier terminations, which might help in the short term. But historically, companies that have received bad press for their supply chain, such as Gap, have turned their operations around to offer best-in-class practices and disclosure. By taking a closer look at their supply chains, companies are committing to being responsible citizens and can document their efforts to prevent tragedies such as the recent ones in India and Bangladesh.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for supply chain: 12, 21, EC9, EN17, EN32, EN33, LA14, LA15, HR4, HR5, HR6, HR10, HR11, SO9 and SO10

Accountability Starts at the Top

Lastly, the G4 framework encourages an added level of engagement from senior leadership and the CEO. Companies should be prepared to disclose how senior executives and boards are responsible for the organization’s sustainability report. In addition, the CEO will need to sign off on the selection of material issues, and his or her letter should include key events, achievements, and failures during the reporting period.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for accountability: 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48.

Conclusion

In some ways, producing a G4 GRI report is going to be more difficult. Taking a hard look at internal priorities and stakeholder expectations, committing to more supply chain transparency, and having executives involved in the reporting process will make things a bit trickier than in years past.

However, once the initial effort has been made, CSR and sustainability reports will ultimately be more focused, broader in their assumption of responsibility, and require greater executive commitment—ultimately leading to more systemic and positive change than ever before.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to seeing your G4 reports next year.

*This spreadsheet is not an official publication of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), nor has it been reviewed by any members of GRI in an official capacity.

- See more at: http://www.addison.com/blog/what-gris-new-g4-guidelines-mean-to-you/#sthash.rJBddQrZ.dpuf

A lot has already been written on the new GRI G4 framework. But as an agency that is working directly with companies to produce CSR/sustainability reports, we thought you might appreciate more of a non-technical breakdown of these changes. As we begin to assist our clients in navigating the new framework, one of the first things we noticed is that there is currently no official Content Index template for reporters to use. So we made one for you to use*, at no charge, to help you begin to assess your level of disclosure next year.

The spreadsheet lists the new G4 General and Specific Standard Disclosures, and provides the corresponding G3.1 indicators so that you can easily match up your answers from last year in a gap analysis. On the third tab, we offer a starting point for your materiality analysis, with all of GRI’s Material Aspects to consider for your organization’s key issues. However, you should keep in mind that there are always additional topics which are material to every company (and not identified by GRI), and these should be included on the matrix as well.

Below, we’ve described the broad changes for the G4 framework, and how they will affect your reporting going forward. These include the importance of materiality in your report, a greater focus on the supply chain, and the increased expectations for how senior leadership will need to be involved (more than simply writing a letter).

Materiality Front and Center

The G4 framework’s renewed attention to materiality means that companies are able to truly focus on the issues that are most important to their business, and put these front and center in the report. Transparency and authenticity trump the number of boxes checked, as it’s no longer a matter of striving to qualify for an “A-level” report. This provides an incentive to move less-material sections of a report to a more functional location in the GRI Index or on the main company site for more “evergreen” content. If stakeholders aren’t reading it, and the subject matter remains static each year, it doesn’t need prominence in the sustainability report.

Readers should be able to quickly identify a company’s most relevant topics and how they fit into a bigger picture of what the company is doing overall. Companies should harness this focus to help foster new ideas and breed innovation in the areas where it can make the most difference to stakeholders. G4 should be viewed as a business opportunity, not a burden to be endured.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for materiality: 18, 19, 20, 21 and Disclosures on Management Approach for each Material Aspect.

Spotlight on Suppliers

Right from the beginning (Standard Disclosure 12), the G4 framework lays out another key difference from G3.1. After materiality, supply chain transparency is the largest challenge reporters will face. All told, there are 12 relatively new disclosures that ask how current suppliers are evaluated, and how new suppliers are screened for environmental performance, employee relations, human rights, and their impact on society. Companies are going to have to increase their transparency on a subject that has been lacking in many reports to date. And that’s a good thing.

Requesting information on companies’ supplier relationships elevates the importance of promoting an ethical, transparent supply chain. In some cases, this new focus may involve some supplier terminations, which might help in the short term. But historically, companies that have received bad press for their supply chain, such as Gap, have turned their operations around to offer best-in-class practices and disclosure. By taking a closer look at their supply chains, companies are committing to being responsible citizens and can document their efforts to prevent tragedies such as the recent ones in India and Bangladesh.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for supply chain: 12, 21, EC9, EN17, EN32, EN33, LA14, LA15, HR4, HR5, HR6, HR10, HR11, SO9 and SO10

Accountability Starts at the Top

Lastly, the G4 framework encourages an added level of engagement from senior leadership and the CEO. Companies should be prepared to disclose how senior executives and boards are responsible for the organization’s sustainability report. In addition, the CEO will need to sign off on the selection of material issues, and his or her letter should include key events, achievements, and failures during the reporting period.

Relevant G4 Disclosures for accountability: 34, 35, 36, 37, 42, 43, 44, 45, 46, 47 and 48.

Conclusion

In some ways, producing a G4 GRI report is going to be more difficult. Taking a hard look at internal priorities and stakeholder expectations, committing to more supply chain transparency, and having executives involved in the reporting process will make things a bit trickier than in years past.

However, once the initial effort has been made, CSR and sustainability reports will ultimately be more focused, broader in their assumption of responsibility, and require greater executive commitment—ultimately leading to more systemic and positive change than ever before.

Good luck! We’re looking forward to seeing your G4 reports next year.

*This spreadsheet is not an official publication of the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), nor has it been reviewed by any members of GRI in an official capacity.

- See more at: http://www.addison.com/blog/what-gris-new-g4-guidelines-mean-to-you/#sthash.rJBddQrZ.dpuf

 

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CONTENT: Blog