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Time for Reporting

These are busy times for reporters, with the compilation and turnover of financial reports taking the priority and attention of many. As a result, sustainability reports often lag behind financial accounting, unless the sustainability information is integrated directly within the financial report. This begs the question: when it is the best time to publish non-financial sustainability or CSR reports?

“The reporting organization shall report on a regular schedule so that information is available in time for stakeholders to make informed decisions.”

Timeliness is one of the six principles guiding the report quality, according to the GRI Standards. If the equal treatment of financial and non-financial data is important for stakeholders, then sustainability reports should not be left to lag behind the financial reporting periods, as defined by legislation.  It is clear that the greater the “sustainability information gap”, the lower both the communications value and the value to support stakeholders with their assessments and decisions.

As of 1 May 2019, seven Swiss organizations published and uploaded their 2018 sustainability reports, each written in accordance with the GRI Standards. Approximately the same number of sustainability reports which merely cite the GRI Standards or do not use them at all were also published.

There are some clear trends to observe in the past year. First, many organizations have started to bring their supply chain in order, which may be a result of the ISO 20400 Sustainable Procurement international standard that was released in 2017. Sustainable procurement has become an increasingly important strategic task for corporates. Therefore, it comes as little surprise that the International Olympic Committee has taken steps to prove its commitment by issuing the ‘Olympic Games Guide on Sustainable Sourcing’ for Organizing Committees. Welcome news and high time to improve the image of mega sporting events.