I just finished an analysis of ten U.S. integrated reports. It was an iterative process, reading all of them and then trying to distill down the unique differences among them. I got it down to twelve factors.
- Are we targeting investors or sustainability stakeholders?
- Will this replace our annual report?
- What will we call the report?
- Will we prepare a document or also a website?
- How detailed are we going to be?
- What standards should we use?
- Should we pursue assurance?
- Should we identify our stakeholders?
- How will we explain our value creation process?
- Will we use the capitals vocabulary?
- How will we report on the capitals?
- Should we use a multi-capital scorecard to tie it all together?
The first seven are about the process. There was no pattern among the companies. They used lots of standards and produced reports ranging fro 27 to 202 pages.
The next five are about the content. Here there was also diversity in the approaches taken. In general, most companies were vague about their stakeholders. Six offered a graphic of their value creation process but the graphics all looked quite different. Only two actually used the “capitals” vocabulary but all reported on the capitals. Except for intellectual capital, the companies tended to use single- and multi-year metrics. Seven included a multi-capital scorecard of some sort.
Although I’ve been using an integrated model in my consulting for more than a decade, these public reports provide a way to see a broad range of approaches. The briefing paper on these reports is now available for download. It includes specific data for each question and a summary by company for ten reporters including GE, Clorox, Pfizer, Southwest and more.