The Impact of Sustainability Reporting

The Impact of Sustainability Reporting

By: Juliette Gaussem








Making CSR Mandatory

Governments and regulators have a direct interest in sustainability reporting – it can help markets function more efficiently, and drive progress towards sustainable development goals. Sustainability reporting is relevant for governments, as it:

  • Helps them to understand what companies within their jurisdictions are doing with regard to their environmental and social impacts
  • Helps them to assess how companies are contributing to national sustainability efforts
  • Creates transparency
  • Creates dialogue between companies and other stakeholders, including governments
  • Makes it possible to hold companies accountable for the impacts of their activities

Sustainability reporting is therefore a vital first step for managing change towards a sustainable global economy, promoting transparency  and clear understanding of national sustainable development efforts.

Top 5 Success Factors of a Sustainability Framework

Only a decade ago, just a handful of companies reported their sustainability data. Today, there are over 5,000 companies that publish sustainability reporting. Among the world’s largest companies, producing a sustainability report is already standard practice: the majority of S&P-500 companies now report on their sustainability impacts; and this figure rises to 95% for the Fortune 250.

Sustainability reporting guidelines, such as the ones published by GRI, offer Reporting Principles, Standard Disclosures and an Implementation Manual for the preparation of sustainability reports by organizations, regardless of their size, sector or location. The Guidelines also offer an international reference for all those interested in the disclosure of governance approach and of the environmental, social, and economic performance and impacts of organisations. The Guidelines are useful in the preparation of any type of document which requires such disclosure.

These guidelines are developed through a global multi-stakeholder process involving representatives from business, labour, civil society, and financial markets, as well as auditors and experts in various fields; and in close dialogue with regulators and governmental agencies in several countries.

Principles to Preparing Sustainability Report

  • Stakeholder Inclusiveness
  • Sustainability Context
  • Completeness
  • Materiality
  • Balance
  • Comparability
  • Timeliness
  • Accuracy
  • Clarity
  • Reliability

CSR Enhancing Business Performance

Until relatively recently, sustainability has not been high on the agendas of most large companies, but many of the world’s leading businesses now recognise that the companies that will thrive in the future are those that connect the dots between people, planet, and profit.

​For companies that have truly put sustainability at the heart of their business models, the benefits are many and obvious. These include increased trust among customers, brand enhancement, more resilient supply chains, happier and more effective employees, and improved relationships with stakeholders…the list is long and compelling.

As the business case for sustainability grows, the value of sustainability reporting becomes increasingly recognised. Being transparent and reporting helps companies to set goals, measure performance, and operate as efficiently and profitably as possible. By engaging with sustainability reporting as a standard practice, businesses can gain a three-dimensional view of profit and value. After all, if money is what makes the world go round, it’s in everyone’s interest for the economic bottom-line to be a sustainable one.


Juliette Gaussem is the Senior Coordinator and Corporate & Stakeholder Relations at Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). GRI promotes the use of sustainability reporting as a way for organisations to become more sustainable and contribute to sustainable development.​ A sustainable global economy should combine long term profitability with ethical behaviour, social justice, and environmental care. This means that when companies and organisations consider sustainability – and integrate it into their operations – they must consider four key areas of their performance and impacts: economic, environmental, social, and governance.

GRI’s Sustainability Reporting Framework is a reporting system that enables all companies and organisations to measure, understand, and communicate this information. The organisation’s mission is to make sustainability reporting standard practice; one which helps to promote and manage change towards a sustainable global economy.  This aims to achieve a sustainable global economy where organisations manage their economic, environmental, social, and governance performance and impacts responsibly as well as report transparently. In addition, we aim to make sustainability reporting standard practice by providing guidance and support to organisations.