Organisations are increasingly looking for clear standards by which to assess their ESG performance. The GRI, or Global Reporting Initiative, was established to make sustainability reporting easier by creating a clear framework to follow.

The GRI standards are used by organisations around the world to simplify ESG reporting. Over 10,000 bodies use them to assess their journey to net zero. Although the GRI is not a legal document, many companies use the standards to shape their targets.

Having clear standards is essential to measuring ESG performance. The GRI framework for sustainability reporting creates a specific, measurable set of criteria for organisations to understand the impact they are having on the planet. The report includes universal guidance but also sector and topic specific standards.

Why is Effective ESG Reporting Important?

Publishing an ESG report sets out clear intentions for future sustainability projects. This allows potential investors to have a complete idea of how their money will be spent. 

The ‘ethics’ of an organisation are becoming increasingly important for investors. Recent reports suggest over 75% of investors said ESG risks are an important factor in investment decision-making

A public ESG report will also grant you access to ESG funds. Banks are setting aside money exclusively for ESG investment. Prioritising ESG can attract stakeholder groups looking for more reliable long-term organisations.

How Should Organisations Use The GRI?

The GRI was designed to be accessible for all organisations across different sectors. It outlines three different series of Standards which must form a part of an organisation’s comprehensive approach to ESG reporting.

  •   Universal

These are sustainability reporting standards which apply to every organisation in the world. They establish a baseline for organisations to understand the GRI and their relation to the Standards. The Universal Standards include:

Foundation (critical concepts and principles of the Standards).

General Disclosures (such as reporting processes or stakeholder engagement).

Material Topics (determining key topics and the place of the Standards in the organisation).

  •         Sectors

The GRI Standards include reporting guidelines for specific industries – starting with those with the highest environmental and social impacts such as oil. It includes an overview of the sector and then accounts for the most important aspects of sustainability reporting for the sector. This is an aid for assessing which material topics are generally significant across sectors. As well as using the Sectors Standards, company must consider their specific topics that will be important to their circumstances.

  •         Topic

The Topic Standards include specific guidance on how to deal with particular issues. An example might include waste products and their associated ESG impacts. Each organisation using the report should utilise the material section of the report to assess relevant topics.

All organisations should apply the Universal Standards. They should use the Sector Standards in assessing the significance of different impacts which are common to their industry. Once they have considered which impacts apply, they must decide which to report on. The Topics Standards group these impacts and outline sustainability reporting in each group.

Not every organisation can report in accordance with the GRI, though this is recommended by the body. If they have specific reasons for not disclosing certain impacts, these can be clearly outlined. In this case, they may incorporate aspects of the GRI into their sustainability framework. This counts as reporting with reference to the GRI.

How Can Convene Help With Your GRI and ESG Report?

Convene ESG is designed to improve your sustainability reporting. Designed in collaboration with our clients, Convene makes reporting simple, so you can focus on developing sustainable strategies. 

Our aim is to alleviate some of the challenges of data gathering, key performance tracking, and reporting, so organisations can move towards net zero. They are able to organise their report, track progress, assign sections, automate reminders and see best practice. The solution will create a Word document ready to publish or edit as necessary! 

Convene ESG also has a built-in comparison feature, which allows you to compare against competitors' formatting of their publicly accessible reports! This will help your whole sector develop the best results possible.

If you’d like to learn more, you can read about our early adopters or contact us for a free demo. Also keep an eye on our LinkedIn as we will be scheduling free webinars soon! The next one will be the 14th December at 10 am, sign up here!

Lucy Palmer

Written by Lucy Palmer

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