Reporting Matters 2015

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Geneva, November 5 2015 – The 2015 edition of Reporting matters, a key publication developed by the World Business Council for Sustainable Development (WBCSD) in partnership with consultants Radley Yeldar, shows that the effectiveness of corporate non-financial reporting is improving among leading companies, but there remains a lot to be done for reporting to reach its full potential in driving improved performance and decision-making.

Concise corporate sustainability disclosures which connect financial, environmental and social performance will play a critical role in improving business decision making and changing perceptions of value. This will in turn will drive the transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy.

Reporting matters provides insights into how progressive companies are using the reporting process to drive change inside their businesses, and ultimately impact the way capital markets allocate financial resources. This report is the outcome of the third review of the WBCSD members’ sustainability or integrated reports. It spans 169 world-leading companies from more than 20 sectors and 35 countries.

The 2015 research shows that 62% of the leading companies have improved their disclosures on non-financial information since the first WBCSD baseline report in 2013, with materiality disclosures in particular showing the greatest signs of improvement.

Peter Bakker, CEO and President, WBCSD, said: “Our research and ongoing exchanges with members indicate that corporate reporting is still not used to its full potential. At the WBCSD, we envision a world where natural and social capital measurement and valuation are an integral part of performance management.

“The disclosure of non-financial information based on reliable data along with qualitative and contextual information, drives improved decision-making and helps provide a more accurate valuation of companies leading to more efficient allocation of capital market investments. This is fundamental to driving the transition to a sustainable and low-carbon economy.”

Ben Richards, Consulting Director at Radley Yeldar, said: “This is the third year of our partnership with WBCSD. Despite the significant progress made by corporations since the 2013 baseline, there remains ongoing work to improve the effectiveness of their sustainability reporting – considering how it can be used as both a communications tool and a driver for change within companies.”

Key findings from the report include:

  • 36% of companies have improved their materiality disclosures since 2013.
  • An increasing number of companies are reporting on impacts beyond their direct operations, suggesting a widening focus on impacts across the value chain.
  • The time lag between the end of the reporting year and the publication date of reports is shortening, with financial and non-financial reporting cycles becoming more aligned.
  • GRI (Global Reporting Initiative) guidelines remain the most widely used.
  • Companies are continuing to combine their financial and non-financial reporting into annual reports or self-declared integrated reports.

WBCSD is working with its member companies and partners to provide business with the necessary tools that will influence investment decision-making to reward more sustainable companies.

Mr. Masatoshi Sato, Board member, WBCSD Redefining Value said: “Reporting is a powerful driving force in integrating sustainability into core business strategy and day-to-day operations. As such, reporting truly represents a business opportunity for companies, encouraging them to develop new and creative business solutions that advance the sustainability agenda. Reporting is a virtuous cycle where both internal and external stakeholders have a collective role to play. It makes companies think bigger and wiser.”