COMPLETENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS: THE EXAMPLES OF POLISH AND INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES

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Nov 9, 2013 (3 years and 11 months ago)

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C
OMPLETENESS OF SUSTAINABILITY REPORTS: THE EXAMPLES
OF POLISH AND INTERNATIONAL COMPANIES


Agnieszka Leszczynska
,
Maria Sklodowska Curie University, Poland

leszczynski1@poczta.wp.pl


ABSTRACT

Sustainability reporting, which integrates information on the economic, environmental, and
social performance of a company into a single publication, is a new trend in corporate
reporting. This article discusses research evaluating the quality and complete
ness of
sustainability reports published by Polish and international companies. In the case of Polish
organizations that have recently begun to present sustainability reports, their completeness
was assessed according to the GRI guidelines. In the case of
international companies, the
reports published in 2005 and 2010 were compared.


Keywords
: sustainability

reports,

corporate sustainability, reporting




CORPORATE SUSTAINABILITY AND REPORTING


Defining sustainability, corporate sustainability


The concept of
sustainable development
,
generally used

at the macroeconomic level,
presupposes that it is the

development that meets the needs of the present without
compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.
As a general conce
pt,
sustainable development encompasses three
interrelated and complementary
fundamental
approaches: economic, environmental,
and that of
social d
evelopment
. Economic
sustainability is
fundamental

to financial success
,
e.g.,
i
n the long run
an

organization simply
cannot survive if
its
expenditure exceeds income. Social sustainability embodies the
humanitarian context and relates to issues of poverty, income inequality, disease, education,
as well as
access to clean water. Environmental sustaina
bility considers the impact on the
quality and quantity of natural resources, improved pollution and emissions management
(Townsend, 2008).
Sustainable development is
the
development that attempts to bridge the
divide between economic growth and environmen
tal protection, while taking into account
other issues traditionally associated with development. It seeks to develop the means of
supporting economic growth while supporting biodiversity, relieving poverty and without
using up natural capital in the short

term at the expense of long
-
term development. Indeed
,

there is a growing consensus that firms and governments in partnership should accept moral
responsibility for social welfare and for promoting individuals’ interest

in economic
transactions (Aras

and

C
rowther
, 2009
).


While at the macro level

there is a certain vision of what sustainable development is
, at the
level of organizations

this concept has not been
made
sufficiently
specific
. Definitions of

corporate sustainability vary on the degree to which they classify corporate sustainability as
either ecological concern (Shrivastava, 1995) or as social responsibility of an organizat
ion
(Carroll, 1999), or broaden
the conce
pt of corporate sustainability

to integrate corporate
economic activities with organizational concern about environment (van Marrewijk, 2003).
The present paper is based on the assumption

that

a company is sustainable if its practices
contribute positively to the welfare of a society a
nd have as small an environmental impact as
possible.
Sustainability therefore is currently used to refer to a company’s ability to maintain
and demonstrate a positive economic, environmental, social performance over the long
-
term.

The economic dimension r
efers to financial viability. It encompasses issues of
competitiveness, job and market creation,
and long
-
term profitability. Economic
sustainability is increasingly understood to refer to generating added value in a wider sense
rather than conventional fi
nancial accounting. The economic and fina
ncial aspects of
sustainability
may
therefore
encompass (ICC, 2002):



reducing operating costs through the systematic management of resources,



reducing the cost of doing business and attracting new business through r
igorous
business integrity policies,



attracting a new range of investors,



offering opportunity for inclusion in socially responsible investment indices.


The environmental dimension
focuses on an organization’s impact on living and non
-
living
natural
systems, including eco
-
systems, land, air. Environmental responsibility involves more
than compliance with all applicable government regulations or even initiatives such as
recycling or energy efficiency. It involves a comprehensive approach to a company’s

operations, products, facilities that includ
es

el
iminating waste and emissions, m
aximizing the
efficiency and productivit
y of all assets and resources (J
amali, 2006).

The social dimension


centers on
the impact of
an
organization on the social systems w
ithin
which it operates. The expectations of diverse groups of internal and external stakeholders as
well as interest
groups comprising civil society

are genuinely considered and skillfully
balanced.


At the practical level, positive results achieved in al
l the mentioned aspects are a possible
indicator of
sustainable development in

an organization. Thus, an organization should
achieve positive financial results, at the same time implementing wide
-
ranging activities
oriented towards the development of
employees and support of a local community, as well
minimizing its negative impact on the environment.


Sustainability

reporting


Over
the last decade, more and more organizations have moved toward monitoring t
heir
performance on environment
al and social a
spects. S
ustainability
re
ports become new tre
nd in
corporate reporting.

Two schools can be distinguished in this area
. The fir
st school comprises
those who
think such r
eporting can usefully be based at the organizational
level because the
entity is what we

are used to, social accounting at this level offers a challenge to financial
accounti
ng and the entity is the locus
of decision
-
making, and probably power (Gray, 2006).
The second school believes that the econom
ic organization is the problem and that all
reporting
needs to be based on regions, ecological regions and local eco
-
system, and the
boundaries between organizations must, consequently be re
-
drawn or eve
n removed (Gray
and

Milne, 2004).
It is critical to collect and analyze information on sustainabil
ity for
improved resource allocation decisions. This information should then be included in internal
sustainability reports to improve managerial decision
-
making regarding processes and
products. How companies perform on sustainability is also an important

factor for external
stakeholders since they are affected by organization actions.


Sustainability reporting

is based on the premise that organizations are not only connected
with one group of stakeholders, but
are

also related to other groups/stakeholders. Those
groups may be interested in an organization’s results and activities (plans, programmes)

it
undertakes in various areas.
Stakeholders, and particularly investors, generally require a clear
demonstration tha
t (a) sustainability impacts are well managed, and (b) sustainability
initiatives are aligned to strategy and support future performance.
Organizations themselves
also benefit from reporting non
-
financial information.
It can
allow them
to track
their

progr
ess against specific targets and help
them

convey information on corporate
sustainability strategy internally and externally communicating all relevant efforts.

If we
cannot
develop a consensus definition of sustainable development
in
organizations
, we can

still proceed by having a consistent tool for monitoring progress.


Literature, as well as consulting firms’ offers, describes

a number of methods/methodologies
to assess the level of organizations’ sustainable development. The most frequently named are:
the

World
Business Council for Sustainable Development, the Global Environmental
Management Initiative, the Coalition for Environmentally Responsible Economies

are among
the most frequently named
.

The common characteristics of a majority of them include
(Format)
:

1.

An explanation of how sustainability is connected to the overall op
erational strategy
of an organiz
ation and the provision of sustainability targets. The challenge is to
ensure that in mainstream reporting the sustainability information included
is
strategically important. Targets are important to ensure and demonstrate that
sustainability issues are taken into account when making investment decisions.

2.

Five key environment
al indicators, which all organiz
ations should consider reporting,
they are:

greenhouse gas emissions, energy usage, water use, waste and significant
use of other finite resources.

3.

Other key sustainability information should be given where the business or operation
has material impacts. The Framework is not prescriptive in this r
espect to avoid the
provision of irrelevant information and a "one
-
size
-
fits
-
all" approach.

4.

To aid performance appraisal, industry benchmarks for the key performance
indicators when available.

5.

The up
-
stream and d
own
-
stream impact of the organiz
ation's pr
oducts and services:
the sustainability impacts of its suppliers and the use of its products or services by
customers and consumers.


The most widely recognized and acknowledged is
the
GRI
G
uidelines.
The GRI Guidelines
ar
e the first

framework for providing guidance for disclosure about sustainability
performance. More than three
-
quarters of the Global Fortune 250 companies follow the
Guidelines.
It is based on the evaluation of

economic, ecologica
l,
and
social performance.
The GRI

gu
idelines suggest that reports should

cover the following indicators:



vision and strategy of
an

organization on sustainable development, including a
relevant statement by the CEO or equivalent senior manager;



profile of the organization and the report
itself, giving an overview of organization’s
activities and report’s scope;



organization’s governance structure, including overarching policies and management
systems in place to implement the vision of
an

organization regarding sustainable
development;



pe
rformance of
an

organization during the reporting period, with information grouped
under indicators according to the conventional definition of sustainable development.




Some examples of indicators for three

key areas

of sustainability including:



economic: wages and benefits, job creation,
expenditures on research and
development, investments in training, forms of human capital, traditional financial
information,



environmental: impacts of activities, products on air, water, land, biodiversity, huma
n
health,



social: workplace health, employee retention, human rights and diversity, wages,
working condition.


The GRI Guidelines offer (a) core content for reporting that is relevant to all organizations,
and (b) indicator protocols that advise on definit
ion, scope, and compilation methods to help
organizations to ensure a meaningful and comparable reporting on indicators.
No
organization
s expected to report on all the elements in the guidelines, but they are expected to
expand their reporting with time.

The evaluation of sustainability reports presented by
organizations is based primarily on their completeness: I
s the information complete and
accurate enough to assess
an
organization’s performance?
As additional evaluation criteria

GRI
suggests
:



materiali
ty: D
oes the sustainability report provide an account covering all the areas of
performance that stakeholders need to judge the organization’s performance?



r
esponsiveness: H
as the organization responded coherently to stakeholder’s concerns
and interests?


S
TUDY METHOD


Scoring system


In deciding on a met
h
od for ev
aluating organization reports, th
e author lo
oked at

several
potential metrics.
The GRI methodology was adopted as the basis for evaluation because
it is
generally used and available

(
69 percent
of the largest companies by revenue follow the GRI
Sustainability Reporting Guidelines
)
.
The range of points used in evaluating sustainability
reports was

b
etween 0 and 4
.
Points

were assigned as follows:



when a specific topic was not mentioned In the
report, no points were assigned,



brief or generic statements received 1 point,



more detailed coverage received 2 points,



extensive coverage received 3 points,



4 points was assigned to topic when coverage was full.


It should be stressed that the study did
not evaluate results achieved by individual
organizations, but exclusively the way (
precision, reliability) in which they presented
information. The maximum score was 312 for 78 topics. The n
umber of topics and the
maxi
mum
possible
score

for each
of them
are presented in T
ab
le 1
.




Table 1:
Scope of the study
.

Section

Topics

Maximum
points

Vision and strategy

1

4

Profile
, parameters

21

84

Governance

5

20

Economic performance

8

32

Environmental performance

18

72

Social performance:

Labo
u
r practices

Human rights

Society

Product responsibility

25

100

9

6

6

4

36

24

24

16


Studied re
ports


A web
-
based search was per
formed to
collect

all sustainability

reports published by polish
and international
organizations. In total
,

12
P
olish
reports were
included i
n the assessment for
2010 (see T
ab
le 2
).
All organizations in this group

were first
-
time reporters.
The study of
international organizations covered 17 companies. The reports analyzed in this group came
from 2005 and 2010. 10 reports of 2005 were

examined. Half of the organizations in this
group did not prepare reports in the following years. 5 organizations that published their
sustainability reports also in 2010 were subject to
a
comparative
examination
. In 2010
,

12
additional organizations that

had not
earlier presented sustainability reposts were included in
the study. According to the time of preparing the report,
the GRI guidelines or GRI
framework

were used
.




Table 2:
List of the analyzed reports
.


2005

2010

International
organizations

SAB Miller

Cosmote

Coca Cola

British American Tobacco

Atlas Copco

BP

Henkel

Skoda Auto

Palfinger

World Steel Industry

Samusung

IKEA

SAB Miller

Cosmote

Coca Cola

British American Tobacco

Atlas Copco

Daimler Chrysler

Toyota

Wal Mart

Siemens

Asia Development
Bank

Confederation of European Paper
Industries

HSBC Holdings

US Army

Hitachi

Jacobs Engineering Group

Sony Ericsson

Polish organizations


Telekomunikacja Polska TP

Lotos

Górnośląska Spółka Gazownictwa

m䭎⁏ 汥l

Grupa Żywiec

䅰A瑯t

䅵瑯獴牡摡⁅歳灬潡瑡c橡

Ba汥l⁍ 瑡t

Ba湫⁇潳灯na牳瑷r⁋牡j潷ogo

䅸e氠l灲楮pe氠l潬獫o

m潬灨慲浡




RESULTS


General results for individual areas are present
e
d in Figure 1.


Fig
ure
1
:

Average scores per group
.


The greatest increase was recorded for

SAB Miller, reflecting on 12

percent improvement in
overall report content

over 5 years
.
Telekomunikacja Polska, which provided the most
balanced report (58 percent), should be indicated as a benchmark
.


On the whole,
the
introductory statements
did not concern sustainable
development, but
presented an organization’s profile.

The r
eports described the organization’s major products,
the countries or regions where the organization’s operations are located.

They
referred to
the
scale of the reporting entity
; i
n terms of nu
mber
of employees, net sales, and volume of
products or services
.
It should be noted that, with time, organizations presented less detailed
introductory information,
indicating only

their branch and well
-
known brands.

This is
reflected in a significant disproportion between the Polish organizations (50%) that reported
for the first time and those
having reported several times (22%).

0
0.1
0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
Profile
Parameters
Governance
Economic
performance
Environmental
performance
Social
performance
International 2005
International 2010
Polish


Figure 2:

Results in
the p
rofile

area
.


In terms of the reporting parameters, the analyzed reports most frequently presented the
reporting period, the reporting cycle,
and
the methodology used in reporting. Sporadically,
the
limitations of reporting and
evaluation of the report completeness is a
lso included. In the
international organizations external verification of reports was performed much more
frequently.
The most detailed data in this area was presented by TP (70%) and Lotto (72%)


Figure 3. In the case of international organizations, in t
he area of parameters a 4%
improvement was noted in 2010 in comparison to 2005; in both periods the increase was 13%
in the studied organizations. The organizations in this group presented their mission,
principles and codes of conduct in a more detailed w
ay. The reference to the reporting
entities’ programs and procedures pertaining to the environmental and social performance
can be found here, as well as the list of memberships in trade association.

The Polish organizations, in turn, are more focused on t
he power structure. The mechanisms
of presenting recommendations to the management were the
least defined in this area.
The
reports rarely included information on key issues and concerns identified as a result of
stakeholder consultation or how those issue
s and concerns might possibly influence the
organization’s internal policies
.


On the whole
,

the average score
on the internal governance was 21
%

(2010)
. BGK’s report
scored 70 percent.
The reports of Atlas Copco were
on
e inclusive regarding relevant
information

in both reporting periods
.


0
20
40
60
80
100
120
SAB Miller
Cosmote
Coca Cola
Atlas Copco
BAT
BP
Henkel
Skoda Auto
Palfinger
Daimler Chrysler
World Steel
Sony Ericsson
Samusung
IKEA
Daimler Chrysler
Toyota
Wal Mart
Siemens
Asia Development Bank
Paper Industries
HSBC Holdings
US Army
Hitachi
Jacobs Engineering
TP
Lotos
Lotto
Górnośląska Spółka
PKN Orlen
Grupa Żywiec
Apator
Autostrada Eksploatacja
Balex Metal
Bank BGK
Axel Springel
Polpharma
Profile 2005
Profile 2010

Figure 3:

Results in area parameters
.


Economic performance


The ways of presenting f
inancial results of the organizations
varied

(Fig
ure

4).
Some

of them

provided detailed information (Samsung 68%, Lotos

87%), while others gave only the net
sales results or referred to other
financial reports (e.g. annual) (Axel Springer Polska, Jacobs
Engineering). In this area, the report of the US Army is particularly noteworthy: despite the
fact that data in this sect
or is to a great extent classified, the report presents quite detailed
financial information (53%). In the economic area, the organizations most frequently focused
on their income and contribution to the development of local communities,
the least
frequent
ly


on the risk related to the climate change and to the organization’s retirement
obligation.


All reports included information about donations and charitable contributions tha
t their
organizations had made d
uring the reporting period. In many cases,
however these
contributions were not referenced in financial terms or no relevant breakdown of the total
amount was available. The average score was

28 percent
, showing 3 percent rise from the
previous assessment period
.

0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
SAB Miller
Cosmote
Coca Cola
Atlas Copco
BAT
BP
Henkel
Skoda Auto
Palfinger
Daimler Chrysler
World Steel
Sony Ericsson
Samusung
IKEA
Daimler Chrysler
Toyota
Wal Mart
Siemens
Asia Development Bank
Paper Industries
HSBC Holdings
US Army
Hitachi
Jacobs Engineering
TP
Lotos
Lotto
Górnośląska Spółka
PKN Orlen
Grupa Żywiec
Apator
Autostrada Eksploatacja
Balex Metal
Bank BGK
Axel Springel
Polpharma
Results 2005
Results 2010

Fig
ure 4:
Evaluation of the
reports in the economic sphere.


Environmental performance


The greatest gap between the Polish and international organizations concerns the
environmental sphere.
The average score was 31 percent for polish and 41percent for
international

(F
igure
5)
. The indicators most often
cited were
: energy consumption, water
consumption, and CO
2

emissions.

The reports tend to disclose

soil usage and the influence on
biodiversity. All the organizations presented their activities related to environmental
protectio
n in a very detailed way. The reports presented by production enterprises, included
information on developing and introducing on the
environment
-
friendly products. The results
of evaluation clearly reveal that Samsung (84%) and British American Toba
cco (83
%)

are
leading the way in environmental performance re
porting.

Lotos (69%) is heading the group of
Polish organizations. The organizations publishing reports in 2005 and 2010 showed a
significant 13% increase in reporting ecological indicators.

0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
100
SAB Miller
Cosmote
Coca Cola
Atlas Copco
BAT
BP
Henkel
Skoda Auto
Palfinger
Daimler Chrysler
World Steel
Sony Ericsson
Samusung
IKEA
Daimler Chrysler
Toyota
Wal Mart
Siemens
Asia Development Bank
Paper Industries
HSBC Holdings
US Army
Hitachi
Jacobs Engineering
TP
Lotos
Lotto
Górnośląska Spółka
PKN Orlen
Grupa Żywiec
Apator
Autostrada Eksploatacja
Balex Metal
Bank BGK
Axel Springel
Polpharma
Results 2005
Results 2010

Fig
ure 5:
Evaluation of the report
s

in the environmental sphere.


Social performance


In the social sphere, the Polish and the international organization
s obtained similar results
(Figure

6). In the case of international organizations, a 12% increase in
detailedness of
reporting could be observed over the last 5 years. The report of the British American Tobacco
and Lotos scored the highest in the social sphere. The results obtained for the sub
-
areas
evaluated

in

this sphere were listed in Table

3.


Table
3:
Results obt
ained in the social sphere sub
-
areas.


Polish

International 2005

International 2010

Labor market

35

26

27

Human rights

25

14

16

Society

18

22

15

Product

responsibility

19

18

23


The reports generally

provided more information on internal labo
u
r practices and working
environments than on broader social issues associated with their companies’ business
operatio
ns. In particular, most reports
included analysis of the organization workforce in
terms of fac
tors such as gender, age,
and the degree

of education.

Info
rmation on training
courses was

also presented. The area of human rights and society scored the lowest. In the
former case, most reports include reference to freedom of association and to discrimin
ation of
employees. However, only few organizations (Coca Cola) include the human rights aspect in
their reports.
The results offered
little discussion on their organizatio
ns’ respect and
protection for b
asic human rights or the sphere of influence of the
reporting entity.

In the
social
area the organizations focus on the activities

related to local policy: management
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
SAB Miller
Cosmote
Coca Cola
Atlas Copco
BAT
BP
Henkel
Skoda Auto
Palfinger
Daimler Chrysler
World Steel
Sony Ericsson
Samusung
IKEA
Daimler Chrysler
Toyota
Wal Mart
Siemens
Asia Development Bank
Paper Industries
HSBC Holdings
US Army
Hitachi
Jacobs Engineering
TP
Lotos
Lotto
Górnośląska Spółka
PKN Orlen
Grupa Żywiec
Apator
Autostrada Eksploatacja
Balex Metal
Bank BGK
Axel Springel
Polpharma
Results 2005
Results 2010
programs, influence on local communities, and lobbing.
The reports omitted information
regarding bribery and corruption, anticompetit
ive
behavio
u
r and how companies d
eal with
such matters. Significantly, only

3 re
ports
of the Polish organizations indicated anticorruption
activities. In the area of product responsibility, information provided by the Polish
organizations scored much lower: th
eir reports are more general and selective. Also, less
attention was given to the
issues such as preserving customers’ health and safety during the
use of products, product label
l
ing,
and
consumer privacy.


Fig
ure 6:
Evaluation of the reports in the
social sphere.


Possibility of

improvement


Undoubtedly, in the recent years an increase in the detailedness of the presented sustainability
reports could be observed. This concerns especially the environmental sphere. However,
there is still much
room for

improvement
s
.
In the economic sphere, the information related to
the climate change is omitted. In the social sphere the least precisely reported information is
that related to anticorruption policy, human rights (including children labo
u
r, forced labo
u
r),
and support given by the organizations to political activity. In the case of the Polish
organizations, the gaps in reporting concern social issues and product safety.

Some authors point to the
n
eed for
the
global architecture of standards,
or
normative

framework
, to emerge
.

In our opinion,
the present reporting standards meet the needs of the
organizations and stakeholders. The development of those standards over the recent years has
made them

appropriate for covering
all
the
relevant issues
.


CONCLUSIO
N


Sustainability

reporting

is gaining acceptance among a growing number of organizations.
The
analysis of the number of reports published on the www pages showed a ca. 70% increase for
international organizations over 5 years.
An increase in this kind of reporting concerns also
0
10
20
30
40
50
60
70
80
90
SAB Miller
Cosmote
Coca Cola
Atlas Copco
BAT
BP
Henkel
Skoda Auto
Palfinger
Daimler Chrysler
World Steel
Sony Ericsson
Samusung
IKEA
Daimler Chrysler
Toyota
Wal Mart
Siemens
Asia Development Bank
Paper Industries
HSBC Holdings
US Army
Hitachi
Jacobs Engineering
TP
Lotos
Lotto
Górnośląska Spółka
PKN Orlen
Grupa Żywiec
Apator
Autostrada Eksploatacja
Balex Metal
Bank BGK
Axel Springel
Polpharma
Results 2005
Results 2010
the countries where the experience of organizations with sustainability reports is much
shorter. No sustainability reports of Polish organizations dating from 2005 were found, while
in 2010, there are
alr
eady
12 such reports.
Reports are published by production enterprises
(Żywiec) and by service organizations (Autostrada).
We also meet re
ports
in such untypical
trades as
the military or games of chance. A number of reports published by the international
o
rganizations were not integrated


financial reports, social reports and environmental reports
were published separately. However, the reports by the first
-
timer reporters showed an
integrated form.


Contrary to expectations, the Polish organizations,
although they had less experience in
sustainability reporting, scored higher in some of the issues. This is due to the fact that
,

basing on the GR
I

Framework, they provided exact information

according to the successive
points (issues) included in the Frame
work. International organizations adopted a holistic
approach, focusing on selected aspects. They often omitted information on the profile of their
activity and governance. However, the data concerning the environmental sphere and labo
u
r
market was present
ed very precisely. The earlier indicated gaps in the social sphere result
from the fact that most of the organizations
operate in European Union, where human rights
are clearly and fully protected by legal obligations.

The ecological part of the reports sh
ould
be evaluated as very good. The reports tend to highlight an improvement in their
environmental results in the consecutive years. They also present extensive information on
activities and campaign aiming at environmental protection.


Considering the re
ports prepared in 2005 and 2010,
a quality improvement

can

be observed.

An in
-
depth analysis of those reports showed an increase in the detailedness of reporting in
the fundamental spheres, i.e. economic, environmental, and social, by 7, 13 an 12 percent,
respectiv
ely. The presented study of
sustainability reports

indicate that there has been
improvement in the
comprehensiveness of the

sustainability reports published

by
international organizations.

The development of the global standards will enable
organizations that have

not reported so far to prepare a report. The example of the Polish
organizations show that such first
-
time reports may be of a very high quality; the reports of
some organizations can become a benchmark for others.

What is more, the

Polish

organizations that already have experience in sustainability reporting enjoy a competitive
advantage at a national level



and they can encourage other organizations

to follow their
example.


The potential directions of the improvement of the susta
inability reports quality are related to
logic, organization
, editing and reliability (Figure
7)
.

The logic of reporting requires the use
of non
-
contradictory statements, precise determination of the scope of a report, improvement
in the completeness of do
cuments. In particular, this concerns including all information in the
report, without omitting data that are unfavo
u
rable for an organization of difficult to identify.
Information should be presented in as detailed and precise way as possible, and not in
the
form of general statements. To organize a report
,

it is necessary to base on a selected method
of reporting and comply with reporting standard. Editing of a report is related to using
references and to the report form.
In order to improve the clarity,
it is recommended to group
appropriate information, present it in tables, charts, and include also historical data. An
improvement in the reliability of a report consists in obtaining its external confirmation. It is
also important to combine environmental
, financial and social report into one, integrated
document and to make it available to the public. Unpublished reports loose their power of
influence and serve only the internal purposes of an organization.

In order for integrated
reporting to be a viable and useful activity for companies, it must be underpinned by
standardized financial and ESG reporting frameworks. Financial reporting standards, such as
International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS) an
d US Generally Accepted Accounting
Principles (U.S. GAAP) and ESG reporting frameworks, principally the GRI Guidelines, will
act as structural supports for potential integrated reporting frameworks.















Fig
ure 7:
Directions of the

sustainability

reports
quality improvement.


Due to an increase

in the interest in sustainability reporting it is possible to predict that the
sample of sustainability reports in the following years
will

be larger than in 2010.


REFERENCES


1.

Aras, G. and Crowther, D. (2009) Corporate sustainability reporting: a study of
disingenuity?,
Journal of Business Ethics
, 87, 279
-
288.

2.

Epstein
,

M
.

J
. (2008)

Making Sustainability Work
,
San Francisco:
Berrett Koehler
.


3.

Format and

content of sustainability repor
ting,
IFAC,
retrieved from
http://web.ifac.org/sustainability
-
framework/ohp
-
format
-
and
-
content

4.

Gray, R. (2006) Social, environmental and sustainability reporting and organizational
value creation?,
Accounting, Auditing & Accountability Journal
, 19 (6),
793
-
819.

5.

Gray, R. and Milne, M.
(2004)
Towards reporting on the triple bottom line: mirages,
methods and myths [in] Henriques, A. and Richardson, A. (eds.), The Triple Bottom
Line: Does it all Add Up?. London: Earthscan, 70
-
80.

6.

Hussey, D.M. and Kirsop, L.P
. and Meissen, R.E. (2001)
Global Re
porting Initiative
guidelines: an evaluation of sustainable development metrics for industry,
Environmental
Quality Management
, autumn, 1
-
19.

7.

ICC (2002) Business in Society: making a positive and responsible contribution
. London:
International Chamber of Commerce.

8.

Jamali, D. (2006) Insights into triple bottom line integration from a learning organization
perspective,
Business Process Management Journal
, 12(6), 809
-
821.

9.

PricewaterhouseCoopers (2008), CSR: From Risk to Valu
e.

10.


Skouloudis, A. and Eangelinos, K.I. (2009) Sustainability reporting in Greece: are we
there yet?,
Environmental Quality Management
, autumn, 43.

11.

Townsend, C. R. (2008)
Ecological applications: Towards a sustainable world.
Oxford:
Blackwell.


Quality

Reliability

Editing

Organization

Logic