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Integrated Reporting – the essentials

As we mentioned in our January newsletter, one of the hot topics on corporate communicators’ minds at the moment is the dawn of Integrated Reporting (IR). But when companies have been producing traditional annual reports for years, how easy will it be to make the switch? And why is IR potentially so important?

Stratton Craig is currently working with one of the International Integrated Reporting Committee (IIRC)’s pilot scheme organisations to develop their first ever integrated report. Building on our expertise in sustainability, we are delighted to be playing an active role in this new and exciting area of corporate communications.

What?
An integrated report links a company’s strategy, governance and performance to the social, economic and environmental context in which that company operates. It presents a holistic view of a business and enables companies to show how sustainability sits at the heart of corporate decision-making and strategy.

With short-termism much to blame for the present financial crisis, the onus is on businesses to demonstrate their commitment to creating long-term, sustainable business success. The integrated report is a key part of this process, and brings together all relevant information to show how a company follows responsible business practice and creates and sustains value.

Why?
Many people believe that the traditional reporting model is out of step with changes in business and the wider world. Current standards request that organisations provide an account of their audited financial reports. Such reports seldom consider the wider social, environmental and economic context – and increasingly, it’s the companies that are seen to be responding to ‘the bigger picture’ that retain a competitive edge.

Although many organisations today produce a separate CSR report, there is often no clear link between this and their main annual report and accounts. In this way, sustainability often appears separate from core business thinking. Integrated reporting provides an opportunity to put this right.

What next?
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) is driving the integrated reporting agenda. Through its pilot programme it is currently guiding 60 international organisations in their first tentative steps towards integrated reporting. Once complete, the IIRC intends to develop a robust framework for integrated reporting to support the development and adoption of integrated reporting worldwide.

Where do you fit in?
You don’t need to be part of the IIRC’s pilot programme to start working on your own integrated report. If you recognise the importance of sustainable value and appreciate the need to embed this into your strategy and performance, speak to us about your next report and how we can help you.

Please call Harriette Hobbs on 020 7593 4014 or email copy@strattoncraig.co.uk.

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