Taking Integrated Reporting Online

More and more companies in the U.S. are beginning to combine their financial, intangible and sustainability stories into a single integrated report. This innovative approach to reporting content is also leading to innovative means of presentation, including robust online interactive reports.

In a recent study I completed of ten U.S. integrated reports, seven of the ten companies provided a web presentation of their report:

Company Report Media
AEP Web-only
Clorox Web+Document
Coca-Cola Web+Document
Entergy Web+Document
Pfizer Web+Document
Smithfield Web+Document
Southwest Web+Document

All but one of these companies is public (Smithfield is private). The six public companies all included a link to their integrated report on their investor relations home page. This is an important distinction for integrated reports. While many are still only linked from a company’s sustainability site, highlighting the integrated report to investors demonstrates that the company wants to communicate a holistic story about sustainable value creation to this financially-oriented audience.

In telling this story, AEP was unique in their choice to provide a web-only presentation. The others provided both a mini-website as well as a downloadable pdf. On the surface, the web interface sounds like a great idea. I for one hate that pdf’s are optimized for printing with a portrait orientation so they’re frustrating to read on a computer. I have to admit that I found it frustrating sometimes to have to click around the AEP site to find what I was looking for. But I admire them for making the effort.

Part of the reason may be length The Clorox report is shorter (15 web pages versus roughly 75 for AEP) and highly graphical so it lends itself to an online presentation. Coca-Cola‘s is also shorter but its content is much more conceptual than the Clorox report. Entergy‘s report is similar in size to AEP’s so it’s a lot of information to place on line.

Then again, Smithfield has the longest report in the study but managed to develop the best interface of the longest reports. I think this is because they went beyond one overall pull-down table of contents; each section has its own directory on the left-hand column. This makes it easier to understand the organization of the data.

Pfizer and Southwest take advantage of the web to provide additional interactive information on their sites. Pfizer includes videos of employees talking about “what we’re working on.” Southwest also includes photos and videos that highlight aspects of the report and then offer a link to download the full version.

If you’re interested, the three companies that did not provide an on-line version of their report included GE, JLL and ArcelorMittal.

The full briefing about these ten reports includes additional analysis about standards use, metrics and value creation presentations. Click below to download the report with the summary table of the reporting approach of all ten companies.


Read about U.S. integrated reporting

Image courtesy of jaylopez at RGBStock