The sustainability report allows organizations or companies to communicate the economic, environmental and social performance and impact caused by their daily activities.
What is for?
Today’s economy is characterized by the economic relevance of intangible assets, those that cannot be touched or felt. In this way, designs and brands gain importance over assets such as machinery or buildings, especially in more advanced economies and enterprises.
In this context, sustainability reports allow companies to disclose their contribution to sustainable development to stakeholders directly or indirectly affected by the development of their business activity: employees, NGOs, investors, auditors, clients and civil society, among others.
Is there an standard?
In recent decades, voluntary standards have appeared inviting companies to show information on intangible issues not contemplated in traditional corporate reports.
Among them, currently the most widely used model for the preparation of sustainability reports is the one launched in 1997 by CERES (Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies) and UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) through the organisation GRI(Global Reporting Initiative).
These GRI standards are applicable to any organization that prepares a sustainability report. Organizations may also use all or parts of some GRI Standards to present specific information.
“By 2017, more than ¾ of the world’s largest companies provided financial and non-financial information in their annual report.”
Increase in non-financial reporting
The corporate report (CR) is a reflection of how the relationship between companies and society has evolved: in order to improve communication with their stakeholders, organisations have gone from providing mere data to offering a global vision that allows investors to make decisions.
The presentation of non-financial data based on sustainability has increased substantially: according to KPMG’s global report on CR policy reporting, in 2017 more than ¾ of the world’s largest companies provided financial and non-financial information in their annual report. And in Spain, 9 out of every 10 large companies already showed CR policies in their reports in 2017.
Now mandatory for companies over 500 employees
In December 2018, the Law on Account Auditing in the area of non-financial information and diversity was amended to incorporate Directive 2014/95/EU of the European Parliament and of the Council into Spanish lawDirectiva 2014/95/UE. This information already affects companies with more than 500 employees, is subject to review by an external auditor and must be included in a management report or in a separate report dedicated to these issues.
In this way, the orientation of companies towards sustainability practices is no longer seen only as a way of improving their reputation, but as a way of creating more value in the short and long term, and therefore a determining factor of business success.
Image: Brandi Redd