The Global Reporting Initiative—It’s Here to Stay

Want to learn more? Consider a GRI-certified course in sustainability reporting!

By: Janet DeDonato, CEO and Founding Partner, Methodologie

Is your company ready for the Global Reporting Initiative? If not, it’s time to at least be thinking about it. As the most widely used global sustainability reporting framework, the GRI is now becoming the accepted standard for U.S. companies as well. Having a standard reporting framework worldwide allows the growing number of socially responsible investors and others to more accurately compare one company’s sustainability metrics and performance against the competition. The most widely used framework is therefore the most useful—and the GRI can easily make this claim.

When the majority of companies reporting adopt the same format, it increases the transparency and consistency of data year-over-year and clearly highlights where goals are being met, or not being met.

The GRI is also the most likely framework to be the model for a legislated version if sustainability reporting becomes mandatory in the U.S. and Europe. For companies not already reporting on their CSR activities, the journey from zero to GRI framework reporting can be a long one. A company must first decide which CSR issues are most material to their business and industry, and where to focus their initial efforts.

Internal processes are required to accurately measure and capture data in a consistent year-over-year fashion, and many companies start small and add to their efforts and their reporting incrementally. The long-term goal should be to address all material issues, set measurable annual goals, record accurate data, and report progress in the most transparent way possible.

For businesses that want to begin reporting or improve their reporting, a good place to start is GRI’s certification in sustainability reporting—that’s where we’ve started. At Methodologie, most of our clients have some level of interest in the GRI, ranging from early adopters who’ve been using it for years to those who are just beginning public reporting. In either case, we’ve found that we can add more value by having staff (account teams and designers alike) trained in GRI reporting.

It might seem odd to send a designer through training like this, but they are tasked with working with the data and presenting it in the most clear, transparent, and compelling way. In the same way that it helps an annual report specialist to have a working familiarity with GAAP accounting principles, being familiar with various levels of GRI reporting is useful for the CSR specialist. Because the complexity of the information is considerable, and the data comes from across the breadth of the organization, clients grapple with a multitude of communication issues when they tackle CSR reporting.

In a landscape this complex, important, and evolving, we believe there’s no such thing as too much knowledge.

About Janet DeDonato:
Janet founded Methodologie in 1988. She is a communications strategist who combines a deep understanding of business strategy with a strong design aesthetic. Janet has led naming and brand strategy projects, developed corporate communications and identity systems, launched major marketing campaigns, and managed over 100 annual reports and corporate social responsibility reports. Countless clients have benefited from Janet’s insights, including Amylin, BNSF Railway, Boeing, BRE Properties, Microsoft, Potlatch, and Williams-Sonoma Inc.

She can be reached at

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One response

  1. if its true, and i believe it is, that people want to work with people they like and respect, doesn’t it stand to reason that people also want to do business with companies they like and respect. at the end of the day isn’t that the opportunity the GRI represents?

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