The future of corporate reporting -- deeper and with greater scrutiny
Among many interesting predictions, one key realization is clear: the next decade will require concrete action from all organizations on what really matters if we are to truly create a more sustainable economy and world.
Increasing world population, wealth inequality, climate change, conflicts, human rights violations and population migration will all shape the general context in which businesses operate and decision-makers act.
According to sustainability thought leaders involved in Reporting 2025, there is also a strong belief that these issues will intensify dramatically in the next decade.
Private sector to play a pivotal role
Companies will be asked to engage publicly and concretely on specific topics, to use their operations and assets to help society tackle critical issues.
Business leaders, therefore, should set ambitious goals to tackle these issues, which requires them to be better informed on the links between sustainability challenges and business performance and impacts.
Business leaders will need to proactively seek to break down operational silos and integrate the management systems of different departments in the company, in order to act more efficiently on the critical issues to be tackled.
And at a more advanced level, they will need to review business development models considering current and future limitations and opportunities.
Greater integration and consistency
Over the next decade, reports are expected to become more integrated. Not only integrating financial and non-financial information, but also integrating disclosure and goals with organizations’ own supply chains and their partners’, aiming to clearly disclose companies’ efforts to tackle society’s issues.
At the same time, reports are expected to be shorter and more relevant, but yet still explain the context. “Companies will need to find the right balance between direct, ‘to-the-point’ information based on data that can be checked easily, and contextual descriptions that enable stakeholders to understand the efforts made or required”, explains GRI Chief Advisor on Innovation in Reporting, Nelmara Arbex
Nelmara goes on to highlight another key insight arising from the project – that of the increasing scrutiny of company performance and impacts: “Coherence and consistency in communications and actions will be the most important building blocks of reputation”, she says.
“There is a general perception that, in the digital era, when reports and their related communications are ‘real time’, companies will have even less control over information about their performance and their impacts than they do today. This information will become much more accessible to all and will be gathered and analyzed using powerful search engines and analysis software. Companies and stakeholders will be able to find correlations and check consistency more easily.”
Initial conclusions and insights from the entire Reporting 2025 project will be presented and explored further at the Sustainability and Reporting 2025 Forum in October 2015, and the final publication will be released in January 2016. For now, you can download the second analysis paper ‘Sustainability and Reporting Trends in 2025’, to learn more about what these expert insights into the future of reporting.