Until 25 September 2012, anyone can go online to comment on the exposure draft of the guidelines on corporate and organisational disclosure from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI).
This is the second round of consultation. GRI plans to release the fourth version (G4) of the voluntary international standard in May 2013, more than six years after G3.
The first GRI guideline appeared in June 2000. The average life span for any one iteration of the reporting standard is four years.
The first open call for comments on G4 drew 1,832 contributions from organizations and individuals. GRI also held 19 workshops and two webinars to build more interest in the revision process.
A big change is the proposal to scrap the GRI application levels. The letters A, B, and C were developed to let newcomers, especially corporations based in Asia, into the GRI fold. C-level reporters had only to divulge a limited amount of information. A and B reporters produced more robust sets of disclosures. Many stakeholders complained that the application grade is wrongly understood to be an opinion on the quality of the report and even on an organization’s performance.
The drafting group reached back in time for a solution. Reporters will have the option as they did before to state that the document has been prepared “in accordance with” the GRI guidelines. But they have to do a full-blown job. The statement must be signed by the highest governance body, or the CEO, asserting that the report is a balanced and reasonable presentation of the organization’s economic, environmental, and social impacts.
The draft makes room for first-time reporters who want to apply the guidelines incrementally. For the first two reporting periods they can say the report is in accordance with the guidelines so long as they identify what information is omitted. The signed statement must commit to being fully in accordance with the guidelines once the transition is over.
New and amended disclosures on the supply chain are made in the G4 draft. They include procurement practices, screening, and assessment.
What will not be in G4 but was supposed to be is guidance on integrating reporting. That will happen, GRI says, in due course. But the Integrated Reporting Council, a group that is developing guidelines for combining the processes of annual financial and sustainability reporting, is working on a timeline that will not fit G4.
Feedback can be provided on G4 through a consultation platform at the special GRI registration site: http://consultation.globalreporting.org/griportal/php/register.php.
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