Well, the new version of GRI (G4) is here!
Does it strengthen emphasis on materiality and bring a degree of flexible? Yes.
And does it bring new and changed requirements for guiding reporting? Yes.
However, it has also arrived in two documents of some size which at first glance, don’t appear to simplify the process. The documents are:
- Part 1: Reporting Principles and Standard Disclosures
- Part 2: Implementation Manual
The first document includes a few pages at the start on how to use the guidelines, and breaks the process down into five steps. These are critical to read and understand as something this size needs to be taken in bite size pieces, just like eating an elephant. It goes on to describe the two levels of content for reporting – Core and Comprehensive. Unsurprisingly, the Comprehensive approach requires reporting against more disclosure items. However, this must be taken in the context of materiality (see my previous blog) which adds more complexity to the mix. The increased emphasis on materiality should focus reporting more on issues that are of more interest to stakeholders and potentially represent a risk to the organisation.
For established reporters, and those also familiar with the AA1000 Assurance Standard, G4 may not present too much of a challenge, except in its reading. However, organisations new to reporting may find the two documents quite daunting. In addition, the development of an appropriate materiality review process can take time. Those aiming to adopt G4 in 2014 should be thinking about starting soon so that data and information can be monitored and applied to the process during the coming year.
These changes bring clearer synergies with the AA1000 Assurance Standard. Only time will tell whether reporting organisations will see any value in adopting both standards….