GRI joins the Standards Club
You may have noticed the announcement earlier this month by the GRI that governance changes are afoot. Well, they are more than afoot. They are now signed, sealed and in the bag. Maybe, like me, you didn't really understand what the fuss was all about. GRI wants to be a standard setter. OK. But GRI is a standard setter. But some might say: not really, really - other standard setters have more strictly defined governance structures with separation of responsibilities relating to standard setting. But GRI has a multi-stakeholder process, isn't that a valid governance structure? Not valid enough, apparently.
It seems that, if you want to be in the standard-setting Club, you have to have four things:
- Separation of authority: GRI's CEO will no longer have a role in standards development and a separate Board will oversee this activity.
- Due process: a stronger Due Process Protocol and a new Due Process Oversight Committee are now being set up.
- A new acronym or two: GSSB, DPOC, IAC are now part of the GRI lexicon.
- More money: separate fundraising for standards development and the people who will do it.
- An organizational firewall between standard-setting activities and all other organizational activities will be created
- A separate governance structure for standard-setting will be implemented, including the creation of a new Global Sustainability Standards Board (GSSB ), a Due Process Oversight Committee (DPOC) and an Independent Appointments Committee (IAC)
- The global multi-stakeholder principle will be safe guarded
- The Due Process Protocol for the Sustainability Reporting Standards development will be strengthened
- An independent public funding base for standards activities will be established, separate to that of other organizational activities
- Transparency of all standards development processes (meeting agendas, papers and minutes related to the standards development processes will be made available on GRI’s website).
As GRI moves forward, it will be interesting to watch how this new structure falls into place and what it actually helps create. Will we see G5, G6 and G7 in quick succession? Or a number of standards positioned under the umbrella of Sustainability Reporting Standards? Or will we see a War of the Standards unfold with every sustainability disclosure organization trying to be not only a standard setter but THE standard setter? We have heard a lot about collaboration but we are yet to see any terribly obvious fruits of such collaboration. Several months back, the IIRC announced the launch of the Corporate Reporting Dialogue to "promote greater coherence, consistency and comparability between corporate reporting frameworks", with all the known standard setters taking part. We haven't heard much since then. Maybe having everyone now in the same Club might help move things along.
This post originally appeared on the CSR-Reporting blog and is distributed with permission of the author.