Chief Learning Officer, CalCPA
I look back fondly on the last ten years of the IIRC with great memories of how this organization came to be what it is today, and with great hope still for what’s to come in the next ten years for integrated thinking and reporting.
Even before the IIRC was formed, Jeff Thomson, CEO of the Institute of Management Accountants (IMA), and I met with Paul Druckman in the London offices of his insurance company to talk about, what was in its early formative stages, a new framework for corporate reporting. I look back on this as the dawn of a new age in the way in which companies would be able to better tell their own unique ‘stories’ of who they are, what they do, and how they create value.
I had been following the work of the Prince of Wales’s Accounting for Sustainability Project because corporate responsibility and sustainability had already become a passion for me, having worked with the accounting profession for more than 15 years at that point. I knew that simply looking at the financial statement, balance sheet and income statement didn’t tell the full story – there were significant gaps.
I also knew that Corporate Social Responsibility reports were attempts at filling in these gaps, but there was often a disconnect with how those reports connected with value creation at the companies. Simply binding them together wasn’t enough. There had to be a better way. And my gut told me integrated thinking and reporting were the solution. I urged the IMA to become part of the collaboration at the IIRC to help shape the discussion and ultimately the International <IR> Framework, and to engage the accounting and finance profession in using the <R> Framework for their disclosures. The IIRC convened the key stakeholder groups and influential organizations to define and evangelize the value of integrated reporting and the benefits to business and society, which brings us to today.
No doubt the world is more complex today than ten years ago – the Covid-19 pandemic, global economic downturn, widespread social and political unrest are but a few of the factors pushing the limits of society’s tolerance and the business sector’s resilience. Through it all, life must go on. Which means businesses need to show the real value they provide to society, more than ever before. They must demonstrate their responsibility to all of us, not just their investors and supply chains.
The recent announcements among the predominant sustainability-related standard setters – Sustainability Accounting Standards Board, Global Reporting Initiative, Climate Disclosure Standards Board – to collaborate on alignment and dampen some of the confusion among preparers on which standard to use for their reporting was inevitable… and welcomed. The International Federation of Accountants’ recent call upon the International Financial Reporting Standards Foundation to establish an international sustainability standards board to sit shoulder-to-shoulder with the International Accounting Standards Board in order to create a global, comprehensive system of interconnected reporting was an even bolder move. Not only will this build upon the good works of the IIRC and all its members and stakeholders, it will serve as a crucial way in which to rebuild trust in business and the balance between people, profit and planet.