Three Paths to Integrated Reporting in the U.S.

Integrated reporting is still emerging in the U.S. It’s a mostly bottom-up phenomenon with individual companies forging their own path. I explored these journeys in a report I released a few weeks ago. Now that I’ve had time to digest the findings, I am seeing three basic approaches.  The first is the integrated summary report. This is the path taken by Coca-Cola, GE and JLL.  Average length of these three reports was 44 pages. In this approach, the company leaves its current financial and sustainability reporting as is and adds a new report on top of it. Dunstan Allison-Hope calls this the “triangular approach” with an integrated report sitting on top of the two traditional reports. You could say that this kind of report is a synthesis of the traditional reports that connects the dots between them but don’t include all the detail.

The second is the long-form integrated report.  This is the path taken by Arcelor-Mittal, AEP, Pfizer and Smithfield. Average length of these four reports is 141 pages which means that these reports are much more detailed and in Allison-Hope’s terms, cover the entire triangle. Three of the four reports that mention the IIRC Framework are in this category (Pfizer doesn’t mention IIRC, JLL in the summary category does).

The third is the short-form integrated report. This is the path take by Clorox, Entergy and Southwest. The average size in this category is 52 pages. Here, the companies seem to start from scratch and create a different report that is like the integrated summary but aims to be more comprehensive like the long-form report. Each of these reports are innovative and highly graphical.

Which is the right path? It depends on what works for you. In order of difficulty, shorter is probably harder just because it requires synthesis. In a recent interview, the CFO of GE made it clear how much of a journey it was for them to get to the integrated summary report.

This post was developed using data from our recent report called The U.S. Integrated Reporting Journey: One Journey, Ten Companies, Twelve Questions to Get You Started. Click here to download the report.