What have I learnt from my GRI training?

18/03/2011 at 12:43 9 comentarios

This week I have attended a training on the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) in Barcelona. The GRI is the most extended standard for sustainability reporting. Although I still need to study and go deeper in this issue, my first conclusions are the following:

  • A good GRI report does not necessarily mean a truly sustainable company
  • A sustainable company will probably already have all processes and analysis in place to issue a good, consistent GRI report
  • GRI is certainly not the only way how a company can communicate its sustainability strategy
  • The main benefits from the GRI are the comparability between companies (benefit for the stakeholders) and the previous preparatory procedure  (benefit for the company)
  • Finding relevant aspects for your company (what the GRI calls “materiality analysis”) and the dialogue with your stakeholders are aspects far more important that deploying an exhaustive set of indicators
  • GRI is a tool but not “the” goal

What do you think about the GRI? What’s your experience?


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9 comentarios Add your own

  • 1. Chris Milton  |  20/03/2011 en 23:00

    You’re totally right Juan, materiality is the absolute key to sustainability reporting.

    You have to measure and report what is important for your business, company and sector. This is where the financial system went so wrong … money provides too much abstraction and not enough sharp specifics.

    Thank you for sharing your thoughts!

    • 2. Juan Villamayor  |  21/03/2011 en 19:58

      Thanks for your comment, Chris. Materiality analysis is the hey, and yet so many companies dont know how to start… We have to help them!

  • 3. Mehrdad Nazari  |  21/03/2011 en 18:28

    GRI adoption in US and Canada is still trailing behind Europe. Your conclusions are spot on! I feel that the comparability of sustainability performance of GRI reporters is not as simple as it should be. But this should improve over time, increase and further standardization of reporting.

    • 4. Juan Villamayor  |  21/03/2011 en 20:00

      Hello Mehrdad, I heard that GRI is “debuting” in North America now. Maybe Canada and USA will contribute with a more practical approach the GRI methods

  • 5. Frederic Page  |  21/03/2011 en 18:37

    Great post Juan!
    I agee with you, the process of preparing a sustainability report (according or not to the GRI framework) is as important as the outcome: the materiality analysis & matrix, the dialogue with stakeholders, the definition and measurement of the company’s sustainability strategic goals…
    Also, for companies that have never done a sustainability report before, your post is a good reminder that the GRI framework is not the sustainability report .
    It offers a solid methodology, with a series of essential quantitative & qualitative indicators. In my opinion it’s really useful because
    you can only manage and improve what can be measured (and compared as you say), but a sustainability report should be more than that: it should tell the story of a company’s commitment and journey towards a sustainable future .

    • 6. Juan Villamayor  |  21/03/2011 en 20:01

      Hi Fred, thanks! Yes, I totally agree with you, sustainability reports should always have a story to tell, a credible message, a true commitment. We have to help companies!

  • 7. thestoryofmeaningfuluse  |  07/04/2011 en 00:41

    The issue is that frameworks for metrics do not require a story capture in my experience. That is why there is a significant variation in story for each report. My company now specializes in capturing that story as it measures health and impact the environment, planet, people and economy. I have proved over and over again the quality of story capture is how you embed sustainability into a culture and educate all you engage.

    Journalism and report writing is different in approach.

    Measuring impact on health is very important now with rising costs of health care and our global need to teach people who to exercise precaution to assure reduction of chronic illness. In the US alone 50% of the population is chronically ill.

    Lavinia Weissman
    Publisher, Consultant, Sustainability Leadership Coach

    • 8. Juan Villamayor  |  07/04/2011 en 09:54

      Fully agree, at the end of the day, it’s the story and the message what count (why & how), and detect if the message is consistent and coherent. Metrics dont assure that there is a meaningful story behind, however they help to compare, even if their scope is limited.

      • 9. thestoryofmeaningfuluse  |  07/04/2011 en 23:43

        Juan, looking forward to continuing this conversation with Frederic and Albert as well as we can find the time and make it real.

        Stay in touch.


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Juan Villamayor

Consultor en Responsabilidad y Sostenibilidad Empresarial (RSE). Economista y MBA radicado en Barcelona, con un perfil eminentemente internacional.

Es posible generar más valor mientras se aplican principios éticos. Al final todos salen beneficiados: las empresas, la sociedad y el medio ambiente. Eso es lo que yo llamo "Negocios Con Sentido Común".

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