Non-financial reporting – the global trends you can’t ignore…

Globally, companies are embracing the concept of integrated reporting in their annual reports to develop greater stakeholder trust and acceptance and contribute towards securing a social licence to operate. This form of reporting is above and beyond disclosing financial results and includes covering the social, environmental and economic context your company operates in, as well as the link between your strategy, governance and performance. Integrated reporting has gained such traction offshore, that there is now a global push to create a framework for integrated reporting standards. While the parameters and possibilities of non-financial reporting are being developed, there are a number of things you can do this year to address the broader trend towards total performance reporting:

  • Develop a strong and consistent theme – that encapsulates your business’ journey for the reporting year and ensure this theme is embedded and explained in your design and copy
  • Clearly communicate your total performance – include relevant and useful information that will allow stakeholders to make an informed decision about your company’s long-term prospects
  • Include your strategy, values and plans for the future – don’t assume prior knowledge – and report against your strategy – explain to stakeholders how you’ve progressed and what you have planned for the future
  • Clearly communicate your social and environmental performance – don’t allow these sections to look like a ‘bolt-on’ to your operational and financial reporting or to look like window dressing.

Whether or not you support this level of reporting, or believe in its merits, you cannot ignore the broader trend towards more informed non-financial reporting. Total performance reporting is an important way to further build critical relationships with stakeholders, improve your company’s reputation and positioning and demonstrate transparency in operations. There are many ways you can address this trend in your annual report that aren’t over-arduous or time-consuming. Once you start thinking and reporting this way, you’ll find there are many other applications for the information you collect and share that can help further build your company’s profile and relationships. By all means ignore the bells and whistles, but don’t ignore the demands of your stakeholders, or the opportunity to demonstrate your company’s true value and growth potential.