Chairman, World Benchmarking Alliance
I am delighted to have been asked to contribute to this tenth anniversary publication. Congratulations to the whole IIRC team for their exemplary work, a well led team with individuals who have spent many years dedicated to integrating reporting - I miss you all.
When I stepped away from the IIRC after helping to create the concept and the framework for integrated reporting, from inception to adoption, my overriding thought was, “how lucky I was to have had something that makes saying goodbye so hard” (a quote from Winnie the Pooh). We helped create a new vocabulary from communicating value creation over time; to the theme of telling of a story; to the capitals approach (or as Mervyn King so eloquently put it “a symphony of the six capitals”); and last but not least the coalescence of the various corporate reporting standards and frameworks. Integrated reporting has altered the terms of the debate in capital markets, which has and will benefit our economy, our society and our precious, albeit precarious, planet.
Moving to the current and the future, I see a mindset change towards impacts. Through my experience in corporate reporting over many years – from financial to sustainability and integrated reporting – it was the IIRC that championed the vital move from a consideration about outputs to outcomes. Today’s theory of change develops the thinking and challenges us to think about impacts separately from outcomes, not just in the context of the organization and the capital markets but those of society and the environment. I urge us to look at this and think forward to a world where macro influences provide drivers for change – developing a culture of social impact in capital market thinking .
The private sector has a crucial role to play in advancing the Sustainable Development Goals. However, to boost companies’ motivation there needs to be real change in the way that their impact is measured through such as the rankings of the World Benchmarking Alliance and transparency through a variety of routes including codes of stewardship for the investment sector; corporate governance for boards; and corporate reporting based around integrated reporting.
Integrated reporting must continue as it started in being flexible within a structure. The International <IR> Framework, it seems to me looking forward, can form the connectivity it was intended to by regenerating itself in driving for a sustainable world based on societal impact as a prerequisite. The ten years of the IIRC has seen integrated reporting as a real driver of understanding, the next ten years will see it not as an adoption strategy but as an underpinning of global, unified corporate reporting with a single aim – for a society that values the success of business by what it contributes to the world.