Reporting matters 2016 is the outcome of the fourth review of WBCSD member reports – including sustainability, combined and self-declared integrated reports – and covering 163 companies from more than 20 sectors and 35 countries.

Obviously, the members of wbscd have a special profile, wherefore some of the results (e.g. frequency of review of sustainability report or using GRI) may be biased and skewed compared to the population per se – but yet it is still a very interesting analysis. The characteristics have been identified by looking at company reports reviewed only in 2016 – they show for instance: 13% of reports are self-declared integrated reports (2013: 8%), 99 pages is the average report length for sustainability reports (2013: 98), or  9% of those externally assured reports are assured to a reasonable level  (2013: 3%).

This year there is a special spotlight on human rights. 2016 marks five years since the UN Human Rights Council endorsed the Guiding Principles on Business and Human Rights (UNGPs), establishing an authoritative global standard on the respective roles of businesses and governments in helping ensure that companies respect human rights in their own operations and through their business relationships.

Some of the highlights from this special analysis are as follows:

  • There is clear and encouraging evidence that members are embracing human rights responsibilities at the policy level, with 87% of reports reviewed containing public commitments to respect human rights
  • 76% of members disclose details on how they communicate their position on human rights to suppliers, while 56% report on specific processes to identify and assess adverse human rights risks along their supply chains.
  • Challenges remain regarding around the roll-out of comprehensive human rights due diligence systems; at present, 33% of companies identify processes to integrate and act upon the findings of human rights assessments, while 23% publicly commit to tracking the effectiveness of their responses to human rights impacts.
  • There are also limitations in terms of transparency: 26% of member companies currently choose to disclose details of adverse human rights impacts that they have identified and just 12% provide specific examples of human rights-related grievances raised by stakeholders.

Read the entire report here – also to see some practical examples from various large corporates.