Integrated Reporting – One Report or Many ?
This is the third post in a series on integrated reporting.
Does integrated reporting means a single report, or does it mean multiple reports ?
At BT, our annual sustainability report consists of a comprehensive online report of hundreds of pages of text and data supplemented by a summary PDF of about 20 pages. Our Annual Report and Accounts (ARA) is an interactive PDF of text and data of about 180 pages. Both our reports are externally audited.
Does integration mean combining all this into one report, or does it mean creating an integration between the content in each.
Interestingly, during the sustainability report planning process last year, one of the options considered was producing multiple sustainability reports to address the different sustainability needs of customers, employees and other stakeholders. Had we done it, that would have meant more reports, not less.
How should we integrate ?
We provide financial indicators for our CSR KPIs and include high level financial results in the sustainability report. In the 2011 ARA, we had a four page CSR section as we have always done, and for the first time, we reported relevant CSR/sustainability information within the individual sections for each and every line of business and operating unit. There is more we can do, but I consider we achieved the first steps of integration, through producing separate reports for separate stakeholder audiences, but with connected data.
I envisage an increasing interconnectivity between financial, ESG and other CSR information reported, that will be increasingly reflected in the overlap between the commentary in the reports.
I do feel that we need to resist the urge to make a decision on whether the end game is a single document or multiple documents. It would be valuable to experiment with a few different formats before deciding !