The International Integrated Reporting Council released a draft outline of an integrated reporting framework in an effort to establish a basic structure that will be globally accepted as the corporate reporting norm.
The draft framework outline for integrated reporting, which combines sustainability and financial data to provide a holistic view of the company and its ability to sustain value over the short, medium and long term, will be followed later this year by a prototype that contains more detail. The framework will be ready for public commentary by early to mid-2013, with the first official version expected for release late next year.
The basic framework addresses topics such as use of technology, frequency of reporting, potential constraints on integrated reporting and alternative routes that organizations may follow towards integrated reporting. The framework also includes five guiding principles, which were previously outlined in the IIRC’s 2011 discussion paper.
The IIRC also is developing a public database of emerging reporting practices to help organizations identify practices they may want to adopt or modify to suit their own circumstances.
According to the Global Reporting Initiative, a growing number of company leaders are beginning to consider merging their sustainability report with traditional annual reports as they recognize the materiality of environmental issues to their business. But despite the interest, there is no one accepted definition of integrated reporting or specific guidance on how to carry it out.
Two years ago, the GRI and the Prince of Wales Accounting for Sustainability Project as well as business, non-profit and government representatives started the IIRC to develop a framework for integrated reporting.
Last March the GRI released a taxonomy for tagging sustainability data in reports as well as results of the first public comment period on the development of G4, its future guidelines. Public commentators said G4 should define sector-specific sets of topics for environmental reporting and suggested the GRI also offer guidance on how the sustainability reporting content can be used to produce an integrated report.
Other organizations and individuals have called for corporations to move towards an integrated reporting format. Former vice president Al Gore and former Goldman Sachs Asset Management CEO David Blood in February published a five-point plan for sustainable capitalism, which calls for the financial industry to end quarterly financial reporting and to start producing integrated reports.
For more on integrated reporting, check out our EL Insights report.