I BELIEVE THERE ARE SEVEN prerequisites for G4 reporting, as follows:
Leadership with intelligence, values and a determination to run a successful, sustainable business. Leadership should be apparent in the company practice to date, with elements of good governance, insistence on an ethical culture and positive business practices.
A team, which supports the leadership, that is capable of translating this into sustainability strategy, policies, programs and actions, with supporting infrastructures, partnerships and communications. Often this team might be headed by a Chief Sustainability Officer or CSR Manager, but not necessarily.
A process for engaging stakeholders about the way the business impacts them, their community and our planet. This should be at least, in part, a structured process, which is open, documented, and ensures genuine, relevant dialog that leads to conclusions which can be used to determine key areas of stakeholder interest, expectation and concern, and ultimately, influence business decisions.
A process for identifying and prioritizing material issues. This should be informed by business strategy, stakeholder input and a broad review of relevant sustainability topics. Following identification of the topics, there should be a process for prioritization according to the G4 dual criteria of 1) significance of the business’s value chain economic, environmental, and social impacts and 2) influence of the business value chain impacts on stakeholder assessments and decisions. This prioritization is best done with external stakeholder input, as well as internal management input. The result of this process is the fifth element that should be in place – a Materiality Matrix – which is one of the pivotal factors in determining the content for a G4 report.
60 A Materiality Matrix which shows the position of prioritized sustainability topics in alignment with the Material Aspects defined in G4. Where there is alignment, the minimum reporting requirement will be clear (both DMA and SSD). Where there are material topics which are not aligned with the G4 Material Aspects, the reporting company should still report DMA and select relevant indicators for measuring performance and reporting. At this point, the boundary of selected Material Aspects should be determined – internal, external or a mixture of both.
A decision how to report. This will involve an assessment of the readiness of the reporting company to disclose on GSDs as well as Material Aspects and Topics, based on the level of transparency the company is prepared to demonstrate and the maturity of the sustainability processes and performance. For example, it may be that significant supporting information is available relating to the priority Material Aspects, but that the company is uncomfortable for whatever reason about disclosing at this time. It may be that new Material Aspects have been identified for which complete information is not available. The company may be an experienced reporter at GRI A level, or may never have reported before. The G4 Decision Matrix (Figure 7) is not an exhaustive decision-making tool but may help in defining the company’s approach to reporting.
61 A plan. And a copy of the G4 Reporting Principles and Implementation Manuals (if you are in any of the three higher quadrants of Figure 7). And this book, of course! And the relevant budget and resources necessary to go through all the stages of developing the concept, content and format for publication of your report.The G4 Decision Matrix. https://s3-euw1-ap-pe-df-pch-content-public-p.s3.eu-west-1.amazonaws.com/9781351275286/6c838dd5-1269-41a9-b9af-c71b83598210/content/fig14.jpg"/> 62I am tempted to add an eighth element, which is a toolkit of competencies and attributes which include: endless patience, collaboration, cooperation, eye for detail, great storytelling, humility, appreciation, wisdom, passion, honesty, integrity, authenticity, persuasion and many others. But that was true of reporting before G4 was born, so we’ll leave this list as ‘important to note’ and not a specific G4 reporting process element.