Some sixty international representatives of the entire organizational reporting professions will be meeting next week (December 15) in London, by invitation of Prince Charles and Accounting for Sustainability, for the first operational meeting of the IIRC (International Integrated Reporting Committee).
John Paluszek, chair of the Global Alliance and myself will participate in representation of the global public relations community.
Readers are well aware that the concept of integrated reporting is a substantial and innovative part of the Stockholm Accords and, while we pledge to report on the meetings conclusion, I would like to elaborate here on why this process is so relevant to our profession.
My interpretation of integrated reporting is that any communicative organization (private, social, public) strives to undertake a conscious effort to deliver and discuss of course on a differentiated level with its stakeholders an ongoing, continued, multichannel, and tailored-to-diverse-stakeholder-interests .. reporting activity.
To achieve this, it is necessary that the organization integrate its financial, hard and soft asset and governance reporting with its economic, environmental and social reporting.
And, to be able to do this there are at least three basic premises:
a) top organizational leadership endorsement and commitment, which this implies the board of directors, the Ceo and , at least, the Financial, Human Resources, CSR and Public Relations directors;
b) the revision of internal it systems that are capable of integrating financial and sustainability kpi’s into one common xbrl language which allows each stakeholder to easily and quickly grasp the meaning of each number from a full and total perspective;
c) the awareness that such a process inevitably leads to a total integration of the organization’s entire mandatory (safety, labelling, labour, financial, governance, hard and soft assets) and voluntary (marketing, public relations, sustainability) narratives.
If this makes any sense, then how can we fail to appreciate the relevance that this process has for our profession? Of course this is a long term challenge that we are about to undertake.
Yet some things begin to happen under our eyes every other day.
Integrated reports (mind you not reporting, this will need to follow) are already mandatory for South African listed companies, for the first 100 companies in Denmark and for all Swedish companies participated by the State, as from next January!
Surely the presence at the London meeting of the Netherlands Authority for Financial Markets, the European Union, the World Federation of Stock Exchanges, the British Treasury and a number of other oversight and regulatory boards imply that the issue is, at the very least, on their agenda.
Possibly even more relevant, all the big global accounting firms as well as the auditing and csr professional associations from many leading countries, will also be participating to that meeting.
The Stockholm Accords characterize the communicative organization as opting for the stakeholder governance model and indicate that effective and sustainable stakeholder policies -defined by Boards of Directors and implemented by management- imply a communicative process that see listening and reporting as a parallel, interrelated and converging process.
And this is exciting and challenging music for our ears. Will be up to this challenge?
What do you think??