Three thousand companies are expected to publish a CSR report in 2008, but only about 750 will include a third-party assurance statement to address the report’s credibility and completeness, according to Assure View, a report from Corporate Register.
According to the report, this casts serious doubts on the role, meaning and reliability of these non-assured CSR reports. While there are hundreds of assurance providers in the industry there are only three major provider types:
1. AA1000– a free, open-source set of principles focusing on the learning aspects of addressing sustainability.
2. GRI Guidelines– a reporting tool, applied by reporting companies. It provides a framework of principles and guidance, together with a list of disclosures and indicators, for voluntary use by organizations.
3. ISAE 3000– a standard which provides guidance in the form of basic principles and essential procedures for professional accountants on how to conduct non-financial assurance.
The report finds that without a “common language,” there is confusion as to which of the many assurance approaches provides the most credibility and certainty. Although there are emerging standards and guidelines, the reports says they are far from being accepted across the board.