GRI US Conference Executive Summary - St Louis May 2012


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This brochure provides an executive summary of GRI's first US Conference.

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GRI US Conference Executive Summary - St Louis May 2012

  1. 1. Executive Summary St. Louis Conference 2012 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity May 22–23, 2012 | St. LouisThis event was organized byGRI’s Focal Point USA and its Strategic Partners:
  2. 2. About the Global ­ Reporting Initiative (GRI) The Global Reporting Initiative (GRI) produces a comprehensive Sustainability Reporting Framework that is widely used around the world, to enable greater organizational transparency. The Framework, including the Reporting Guidelines, sets out the Principles and Indicators organizations can use to report their economic, environmental, and social performance. GRI is committed to continuously improving and increasing the use of the Guidelines, which are freely available to the public. GRI, a multi-stakeholder foundation, was set up in the US in 1997 by CERES and the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP). In 2002, GRI moved its central office to Amsterdam, where the Secretariat is currently located. GRI has regional ‘Focal Points’ in Australia, Brazil, China, India and the USA, and a worldwide network of 30,000 people. Website: About GRI’s Focal Point USA GRI established its Focal Point USA in 2010. The objective of the Focal Point is to improve the uptake, usefulness, consistency and quality of sustainability reporting, while enabling stakeholders in the US to participate more actively in the development of the global GRI Sustainability Reporting Framework. Since the launch of the Focal Point USA at the New York Stock Exchange in January 2011, reporting in the US has grown in quantity and quality, as has the participation of US stakeholders in global developments. A group of companies leading the growth of reporting in their respective industries support Focal Point USA: The Sector Leaders. For more information about the program, please contact the Focal Point team at RCGA The St. Louis Regional Chamber & Growth Association (RCGA) connects business and civic communities in the 16-county, bi-state region. Whether supporting public policy and infrastructure initiatives, or attracting new jobs, capital and talent - the RCGA is leading the way to a Greater St. Louis. SAINT LOUIS UNIVERSITY The Mission of Saint Louis University is the pursuit of truth for the greater glory of God and for the service of humanity. The University seeks excellence in the fulfillment of its corporate purposes of teaching, research, health care and service to the community.2 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  3. 3. About the ConferenceThe St. Louis GRI Conference – Making Sustainability Count: TrackingProgress, Driving Opportunity – was held by GRI’s Focal Point USA onMay 22-23, 2012. More than 200 participants – including delegates fromNorth America and international guests – represented business, financialmarkets, legislative bodies, professional service firms, academia and thenon-profit sector.Increasingly complex and pressing sustainability issues mean there manage their performance and impacts responsibly, and reportis a greater need than ever for effective reporting to play its part in transparently.the transition towards a sustainable global economy. Corporations, The Conference was the largest multi-stakeholder conference instock exchanges, governments and other organizations are the region to date focusing on sustainability and reporting, lendingrecognizing the value of integrating sustainability into core strategy broad support for the adoption by business of transparency andand business practice, and are adjusting their reporting accordingly. accountability for sustainability issues.The St. Louis Conference aimed to progress North America’s This document provides an account of the Conference drawn fromcontribution to a sustainable global economy, where organizations the views of speakers, and discussions with participants. IN A NUTSHELL 6 panels High level breakfast for 20 local business leaders at the RCGA, with GRI’s Chairman1 CONFERENCE > 200+ delegates > 4 COUNTRIES: Canada, US, Mexico, The Netherlands over 30 expert speakers 2 Master Classes – over 90 attendees at each Growth of USA reporting – Estimated over 45% growth and still counting The financial markets panel discussion was distributed by 3BL Media through Reuters on. Further video materials and interviews conducted at this event are available at: Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  4. 4. Sustainability reporting trendsAround the world, sustainability reporting continues to grow. In 2011, an estimated 5000organizations published a sustainability report. Recent research by KPMG* shows that 95%of the largest 250 companies in the world publish a sustainability report, up from 83% in2008. Of these reports, 80% reference the GRI Sustainability Reporting Guidelines.Reporting is also growing in the US. The same KPMG survey shows externally assured, and that 19% of reporting organizations call theirthat 83% of the largest 100 US companies reported in 2011, up from report integrated. Interestingly, the US percentages are much lower,74% in 2008. This puts the US in ninth place out of 34 countries at 28% and 8% respectively.surveyed, behind the UK, Japan, and Brazil, and ahead of China, Indiaand Russia. Furthermore, sustainability reporting is increasingly incorporating the performance of companies’ supply chains, making transparency partGRI’s Sustainability Disclosure Database tracks all reports GRI is of the supplier-customer dialogue. A much-highlighted US exampleaware of, including – as of 2011 - non-GRI reports. To populate the of this is Microsoft’s recent announcement that all of its core suppliersdatabase, GRI receives information from 25 local Data Partners. For must produce a GRI-based sustainability report.the USA, the Data Partner is Governance & Accountability Institute,Inc. (G&A). Analysis of US reports in GRI’s database shows tremendous Also, the General Services Administration (which oversees themomentum for sustainability reporting. majority of the US government’s procurement activities) announced that it received GRI Certified Training to enable operations andA few trends are clear: increasingly, sustainability reports are procurement staff to understand therelevance of sustainabilityexternally assured, and there is also growth in the number of performance for its own activities, as well as those of its suppliers.companies striving to create what they consider to be an integratedreport. Analysis of the GRI-based reports in the SustainabilityDisclosure Database shows that, globally, 45% of reports are *KPMG International Survey of Corporate Responsibility Reporting 2011 “I believe that sustainability reporting can indicate thought leadership and facilitate trust between companies and stakeholders. Market developed frameworks such as GRI are helpful to investors because they provide for comparability and standardization, which are critical components to meaningful analysis.” Chad Spitler, Global Chief Operating Officer – Corporate Governance and Responsible Investment, BlackRock “Reporting is a good way of looking in the mirror.” David Dowell, Sr. Director Internal Audit & Quality Assurance and Chief Sustainability Officer, Novus (GRI Organizational Stakeholder)4 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  5. 5. How does reporting add value?Delegates and speakers said:• Transparency drives better performance• Reporting drives profitability• hat matters is the sustainability strategy; W reporting is secondary• Sustainability is part of core values• he market rewards pro-active sustainability T managementMissouri is known as the ‘show me’ state, and it was clear that stakeholders. Competitive advantage and supply chainthe speakers and the audience at the St. Louis Conference were requirements are key business reasonswilling to show, share and learn more about the business case for to report.sustainability reporting. The GRI reporting process enables companies to focus theirLeaders from business, local government and the investor sustainability strategy and set goals. Tracking and analyzingcommunity highlighted the benefits of both sustainability and performance helps to identify opportunities and manage risks.reporting. The report comes at the end of this cycle, enabling companies toCompanies with experience in GRI reporting, like Novus, AB share the sustainability strategy and goals; to make the data tell aInbev, Johnson Controls, Microsoft and Doe Run, shared how story. The financial markets panel highlighted that sustainabilitythe reporting process has helped them improve performance, reporting was a way to get investors positively engaged, and thatcreating value for the company, the shareholders and other the market rewards pro-active sustainability management. “Reporting drives profitability as it helps to identify areas for operational improvement within a company.” LaRee DeFreece, Commissioner, Missouri Environmental Improvement Energy Resources Authority5 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  6. 6. “As a privately held c ­ ompany we do not have to report much publicly, but our customers are increasingly demanding disclosure on sustainability topics. Proactively providing this type of information provides us an opportunity to differentiate ourselves.” Sustainability Lee Broughton, Head of Corporate leaders Sustainability, Enterprise Holdings (GRI Organizational Stakeholder)Materiality and stakeholder engagementDelegates and speakers said:• Your brand is really controlled by others• Effective reporting starts or drives a focused strategy• Materiality depends on the sector• Materiality also differs per investment class, depending on its time horizon• Different advocacy groups have different definitions of what is material to a company MATERIALITY AND STAKEHOLDER ENGAGEMENT Masterclasses on these crucial in this development process, ment class. The consensus in the reporting topics were led by GRI and different stakeholders can financial markets panel was a call Certified Training Partners. have different ideas about what for better sector guidance in the is material. To a large extent, GRI Framework, with relevant in- To assess what the focus of a corporate reputation depends dicators per industry. GRI is now company’s sustainability strategy on the ability to engage multiple working on a project to update should be, organizations need stakeholders. sector guidance, and aims to to define what is relevant – or publish a proposed list of mate- material – to their operations. It For investors, materiality is rial topics for different sectors in is vital to engage stakeholders influenced by sector and invest- May 2013.6 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  7. 7. “We created our first report last year and issued it internally to engage one of most important stakeholder groups – our people. We will build on this learning process as we continue on our sustainability journey.” Kristine MacPhee, Canadian Sustainability Practice Lead, Environmental Resources Management (ERM) (GRI Organizational Stakeholder and US Sector Leaders with Eric Schneider (RCGA), Herman Mulder (Chairman of the GRI US Training Partner) Board of Directors) and Mike Wallace (Director, GRI Focal Point USA)The journey of continuous improvementDelegates and speakers said:• usiness respects what it inspects B• eporting becomes easier over time R• ou have to keep telling the story of progress, it’s a continuous investment of time Y and resources• nnovative ideas and technology help drive employee engagement and data collection I• he ingredients of a good report: Multi-disciplinary team, time, focused strategy, and T critical assessmentSustainability and reporting have moved from defense to offense: Employee engagement is a key element of a company’ssustainability can drive innovation and help companies seize sustainability strategy, and employees are a key audience forbusiness opportunities, rather than just mitigate risk. sustainability reporting. To continue to drive change and improve performance, the sustainability strategy and performance needIn his opening plenary, Herman Mulder, Chairman of the Board of to be shared regularly; the sustainability report and the reportingDirectors of GRI, highlighted the reporting process as a key driver process can help with this. Some speakers commented that goingfor change in organizations. Sustainability reporting is a journey of through the reporting process improved employee satisfactioncontinuous improvement. and morale within the company.7 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  8. 8. “In the last 6 months of 2011, over 30 million Environmental, Social and Governance datapoints were downloaded from the Bloomberg database. The environmental indicators and the disclosure score are the datapoints most frequently looked at.” Rina Levy, SG Analyst, Bloomberg Who reads these reports? Where individual companies are concerned, relatively little is known about the readership of full sustainability reports. But it is clear that the data and stories captured in sustainability reports are used time and again in other ways. “Those of us working on corporate Investment support provider MSCI tracks information about more than 2000 listed companies; their strongest focus is on risk management. The issue of which citizenship and companies are reporting and which are not is also very visible on over 300,000 sustainability issues Bloomberg data terminals. in companies are a The sustainability team at the New York Stock Exchange not only looks after the horizontal function in exchange’s own sustainability strategy and reporting but also engages listed com- panies on the topic. But disclosure is not just relevant for listed companies. a vertical world.” The use of performance data and stories captured through the reporting process Steve Lippman, Director Corporate can be used beyond the report. They can be used to engage multiple audiences, Citizenship, Microsoft through multiple channels. For example, social media provide an excellent oppor- (GRI Organizational Stakeholder) tunity to draw attention to the sustainability performance of an organization, and to engage stakeholders and gather their feedback.8 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  9. 9. Changes in the reporting environment In the US, sustainability reporting is voluntary. In several other countries, large companies do have a reporting obligation. In Sweden and China, all state-owned companies have to report. In Denmark, the largest companies have to report their sustainability performance, or explain why if they do not. And increasingly, stock exchanges are integrating sustainability or Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) disclosure into their listing requirements – examples include the Johannesburg Stock Exchange in South Africa, BMF Bovespa in Brazil, and SGX in Singapore.Integrated reporting Continuous development of the GRI SustainabilityWhile the percentage of self-declared Reporting Frameworkintegrated reports is relatively low in the US, thisdid not make for less discussion on the topic. The GRI Guidelines, and its wider Framework, provide guidance for organizations that wantSpeakers and Conference participants alike agreed thatintegrated reporting will become popular, but there is still to report their sustainability performance.hesitation to blend financial and non-financial performance Comparability, consistency and the reportingdata. Some believe this hesitation will diminish the visibility of process are repeatedly cited by organizationsnon-financial performance information, and so make reportsless engaging for stakeholders. Others are concerned about as valuable features of GRI reporting.the potential costs of assuring an integrated report, but at thesame time it is expected that integrated reporting will lead to As corporate reporting evolves and the context continues tohigher levels of assurance in the USA. change, GRI is committed to the continuous development of its Sustainability Reporting Framework. GRI is currentlySpeakers and Conference participants look to both GRI and working on the next generation of the Sustainabilitythe International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) for Reporting Guidelines –G4 – which will be launched atguidance on integrated reporting. Both Clorox and Prudential GRI’s upcoming Global Conference on Sustainability andare keen to be pioneers in the integrated reporting field, and Reporting in Amsterdam in May 2013. To find out morehave joined the IIRC’s Pilot Program, where organizations are about G4 and the development process, visit the G4 pagestrialing integrated reporting. on GRI’s website.9 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  10. 10. GRI’s Goals To make sustainability reporting standard practice, GRI is: • reating capacity through training and outreach C • nnovating and continuously improving its guidance I • romoting a report or explain approach to sustainability P reporting policy • upporting the development of integrated reporting S To achieve these goals, GRI works with strategic partners including the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations Global Compact (UNGC) and the International Organization for Standardization (ISO). GRI’s global network includes hundreds of Organizational Stakeholders – organizations that support GRI’s mission – and some 30,000 professionals from different sectors and constituencies. Join GRI’s Global Conference on Sustainability and Reporting Growth and prosperity depend on our ability now report their economic, environmental, social and to meet today’s most pressing sustainability governance performance. challenges. More than ever, we need a robust reporting framework that enables companies to account for their impacts; communi- Climate change, resource scarcity, financial corruption, human cate how they will create value; and give investors, govern- rights abuses: these interlinked challenges need joined-up, col- ments and consumers the information they need to make laborative solutions. Creating these solutions gives us an opportu- better decisions. nity - to build a sustainable global economy founded on long-term profitability, social justice and environmental care. It’s time to make sustainability reporting standard practice. Leading organizations are showing the way with greater Join GRI and 1500 sustainability leaders at the Global transparency and more responsible practices. Sustainability Conference on Sustainability and Reporting in May 2013. reporting adds value. Around the world, thousands of organizations Visit for more information. Join the Focal Point USA at the GRI Canada Conference, 16 and 17 October 2012, Toronto. Visit for more information10 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  11. 11. GRI Focal Point USA is grateful for the ongoing support of: FOUNDING SPONSORS Deloitte, Ernst Young LLP, KPMG and PwC U.S. – for providing founding donations US SECTOR LEADERS Bloomberg, Clorox, Dell and The Mosaic Company – for committing to showing leadership in their sector when it comes to sustainability reporting and working closely with GRI to turn that leadership into action BOARD OF DIRECTORS Mark Cohen, Vanderbilt University; Julie Gorte, PAX World; Sean Harrigan (Chairman), Past Executive Director, States Council, Region 8; Peter Westra, Stichting Global Reporting Initiative; Heather White, New Standards ADVISORY GROUP Mark Cohen, Vanderbilt University; Eric Hespenheide, Deloitte LLP; John Hickox, KPMG LLP; Kathy Nieland, PwC US; Steve Starbuck, Ernst Young LLP; David Vidal, The Conference Board GRI’s US Organizational Stakeholders, the US Certified Training Partners, the GRI Secretariat and GRI’s global governance bodies. Conference organizing committee Marjella Alma, Diana Carlin, Nitish Singh, Eric Schneider and Mike Wallace.11 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity
  12. 12. This conference was made possible byplatinum sponsorgold sponsors SustainEdge GRI Focal Point USA GRI Global Secretariat 529 5th Avenue Weesperstraat 95 New York, NY 10017 1018VN Amsterdam USA The Netherlands info@globalreporting.org12 Making Sustainability Count: Tracking Progress, Driving Opportunity